I'm not a runner so you won't see me stretching my legs in Olney, pinning a bib to my shirt, and joining 40,000 runners at the annual Broad Street Run on May 6.
Nonetheless, this year's race is special to me.
My aunt Sophia Verros, an avid Broad Street Run participant, died by suicide in June after a long battle with depression. To say it's been a tough year for our family would be an understatement. My aunt's death has left her family and friends with more questions than answers.
But in recent months, the 10-mile race has given us a silver lining through our grief — and a way to honor the life of my aunt.
Every year, Temple University's Gamma Iota Sigma organization for risk management and insurance students raises money for a local charity. The largest chunk of the students' yearlong fundraising efforts is generated through the sale of Temple's Broad Street Run team T-shirts. This year, the students selected Michael's Giving H.A.N.D., a Philadelphia nonprofit dedicated to educating area high school students and their families on mental illness. Moreover, the students chose to make this year's donation in my Aunt Sophia's name. (She graduated from the Fox School of Business in 1995.)
The organization's fundraising goal for this year is $15,000, and the Gamma Iota Sigma students are well on their way to surpassing that total. That money will go a long way for Michael's Giving H.A.N.D, which works closely with Temple Health System to provide mental health presentations and resources to local high school faculties, parents and students.
In 2009, Fox School professor Michael McCloskey organized the first Temple Broad Street Run team of 15 runners. It has grown a lot since then. This year, about 300 runners have joined the team, including a number of my family and friends who want to honor my aunt's memory.
My dad is also running with the team. It will be his first Broad Street Run since 1992. He is using the race as a way to share our family's experience with a loved one struggling with anxiety and depression. Hopefully our experiences can help others who may struggle to find the support they need.
I'll be waiting for him at the finish line.
This 10 miler is so much more than just a race. The Broad Street Run is helping the Fox School's Gamma Iota Sigma students surpass their fundraising goal. It's increasing awareness to Michael's Giving H.A.N.D. And most of all, to me, it's honoring the life of my aunt and her love for Temple, running, and this beautiful city she called home.