The Benefits of Running for Others

The Benefits of Running for Others

Before every race, I practice the same ritual of laying out my running outfit — the more sparkle, the better! It usually includes a running skirt, visor and a tank with photos of my 4-year-old twin boys. They are the reason I run and the reason I will be running the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February for the third time to support Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. It's because of this charity that I have two healthy and active little boys.

I went into labor with my boys seven weeks before they were due. I barely made it to the hospital before I delivered Logan. Thirty-one minutes later, I had an emergency cesarean section with Lennon. Delivering prematurely was my biggest fear. We live in a small coastal town in Florida and the closest children's hospital is several hours away. I was nervous I would be far from the high-level neonatal intensive care that babies born prematurely often require.

During my mom-to-be research, I learned that neonatal specialists from the children's hospital three hours away rotate shifts at our local hospital. It's because of donations to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals that they can provide this vital care. When we needed specialists, they were there.

I don't think I ever understood the value of life until I watched my boys fight so hard for theirs. There was so much strength in their tiny bodies, and I was grateful every day that we were able to stay close to our friends and family until the boys were healthy enough to come home.

Watching my little miracles persevere through so much adversity motivated me. I was eager to lose the extra 100 pounds I had gained during my pregnancy, and knew the gym was not an option with infant twins in tow. That's when I found running. I purchased a jogging stroller so the boys could join me.

Just before the boys' first birthday, I established a new goal: to run a half marathon. My life was forever changed when I discovered I could combine my love of Disney with running, while supporting a charity that ensured kids live happily ever after — running through Walt Disney World Resort in the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

The miles flew by for me. I wasn't running for myself; I was running for Logan and Lennon and the other 10 million kids who are treated each year at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. I wanted to show my boys that their mommy could fight as hard as they did.

Katie Heck celebrates after completing the Half Marathon at the 2016 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World Resort.

I hope to see you this year as I run the Disney Princess Half Marathon again for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. As a charity runner (we call ourselves "Miracle Makers"), we fundraise (the minimum varies by race) and are guaranteed race entry. You thought the race was full? Not for charity runners! We also have phenomenal fundraising support, an exclusive breakfast (yes, there are Mickey waffles), specially-priced rooms at Walt Disney World Resort® Hotels (subject to availability) and best of all, an amazing network of other charity runners.

Join me. Register and learn more here.

When Katie Heck isn't logging miles, she serves her community as the Lieutenant of Community Services at the Punta Gorda Police Department. Children's Miracle Network Hospitals is the presenting sponsor and celebratory charity of the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend.