Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Final Run For Mountain T.O.P.

As many of you know by now, I am approaching my final run. A torn meniscus and arthritis in my right knee has spelled an end of my running. My doctor has said that I should not be running at all. The irony is that this injury came just as I reached the high point of my time in running – qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Only about 10% of all marathon finishers post a time fast enough to qualify for Boston. It was something I had only dreamed about. Fortunately, I was able to post a qualifying time at the Cincinnati Flying Pig marathon last year.

Over the past 25 years, there has been one aspect of my running that has been missing. I have never run for a cause other than fitness, stress relief and just plain fun. As I approach my final run, I would like it to be more than just that – a final run. I hope that it could be a means of helping to enriching other peoples’ physical and spiritual well being.

It is for this reason that I would like to make my last run, my last marathon, a fund raiser. The charity I have chosen is Mountain T.O.P. (Tennessee Outreach Project). (

This is a ministry that the youth at my church have participated in for many years, but I really never knew the impact until my kids went this past summer. They described it as one of the most fulfilling and important experiences they have ever had.

The mission of Mountain T.O.P. is, as described on their web page:

We are an interdenominational Christian Mission affiliated with the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church, dedicated to rural life ministry in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee. Specifically, Mountain T.O.P. seeks to empower those it serves through a philosophy of partnership. Helping to enable the staff, camp participants, and Cumberland Mountain families to realize their potential and their responsibility as God's servants to address the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs.Mountain T.O.P. is concerned with achieving immediate results through direct social service programming and serves only those who have expressed a need. While striving to serve as a "faith-in-action" classroom, participants are encouraged to serve those who express needs in their own hometown.

These are the foundational objectives of Mountain T.O.P.:

* To help meet the physical, spiritual, emotional and social needs of the Tennessee Cumberland Mountain people.

* To actively encourage the Christian growth of the participants and staff who come to Mountain T.O.P.

* To develop the leadership skills of participants and staff.

In meeting these needs, Mountain T.O.P. has been able to effect change in the lives of many. As we move toward the future, we keep our eyes focused on the horizon ahead and our hearts rooted in the knowledge that He who began a great work in us will see it to completion. These are the foundational objectives of Mountain T.O.P.

I hope you can help in furthering the efforts of this fine group to improve the physical conditions of people very much in need, and at the same time develop an awareness in young people of the blessing in their lives and the importance of community service. I feel strongly about this organization because it helps people now and instills lifelong lessons for next generation.

There are two ways to help. First there is a link on my blog ( to a PayPal account donate button. You can use this with or without a Paypal account of your own. I have also added a link to the Mountain T.O.P. giving form. This form gives you the option to donate a specific item (wheelbarrow, step ladder, scholarship, etc.) or just an amount and send it directly to Mountain TOP. Every penny will go to Mountain T.O.P. (I am paying all my own race expenses). Either way, please e-mail me and let me know so I can personally thank you and tally the results.

I really appreciate any support you can offer. I have run many miles, but these last 26.2 will be the hardest. Physically, I hope my knee holds up. Emotionally, it will be the end of an activity that I have cherished and which I will miss terribly. The motivation of knowing that my final run could be a benefit for others now and in the future will keep me going to the finish line and beyond.

To hear more about this ministry and some of the young peoples’ experiences (my kids) listen to Episode 16 of the Early Morning Runner at or at iTunes.

Thanks again.