I serve as a state coordinator for this charity which collects marathon, half marathon, and triathlon medals from endurance events and donates them to individuals battling serious health conditions. The recipients are extremely grateful to have their personal battles recognized for having demonstrated courage and "mettle" with a medal.
Endurance races, whether Half Marathons, Marathons, Half Iron Triathlons (70.3 miles), Iron-distance Triathlons (140.6 miles), or even longer events, are tough. But, as Medals4Mettle points out, “someone is in a tougher race than you right now.” Those of us who race in endurance sports chose to do so. Cancer, however, along with thousands of other illnesses or debilitating accidents, does not ask who wants to participate. Those selected by cancer, or caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, suddenly find themselves in the race of their lives. They just have to keep fighting, every day, and not for bragging rights, a cool t-shirt or a medal, but for survival. Medals4Mettle collects finishers medals from the racers and distributes them to those in tougher races -- the sick and injured -- worldwide. I am an endurance athlete, and have completed multiple marathons and and Ironman. The medals I earned were special to me. Shortly after my Dad was diagnosed with cancer, I ran in my most difficult race yet, the Great Wall of China Marathon. Suddenly, giving a medal away didn’t seem hard after all. I kept the ribbon off of the medal, and Medals4Mettle put a fancy new one on and presented it to my Dad. I’m told he cried. He immediately ordered a display case for it. He e-mailed me, saying he, a professional writer, did not have the words to tell me how much it meant to him. Then he unexpectedly passed away from a massive stroke a few days later. That medal went to Dad, and the rest of my medals will go to whomever Medals4Mettle thinks needs them the most. My races were tough, but they sure weren’t as tough as cancer.