Lauren West Races with Purpose

Lauren runs with Grace (left) for the 8k on Saturday and Steven (right) at the finish of the marathon Sunday, completing her Whale challenge.

Lauren runs with Grace (left) for the 8k on Saturday and Steven (right) at the finish of the marathon Sunday, completing her Whale challenge.

I had the pleasure of running with some beautiful people at the Shamrock race weekend. I met Steven at mile 20ish, somewhere near the lighthouses, I think. He was hunched over and throwing up a salt tablet...not a pretty sight. I was well past my "ugh... I don't want to do this anymore” moment, and full of joy, ready to pick up the pace to the finish line, but he was in the throes of his hard moment. The last thing my body wanted to do was stop but my heart, my soul, said, "help this man, this stranger." What else was I to do but tell Cameron's story. Honestly, at first I just said: "I have a story for you, and, if you walk with me, I'll tell you,” and so he did. I don't really remember what I said. I remember talking about Cameron a lot, and I talked about my own journey a little and he said: "well, I feel safe in telling you this...I've lost four family members to suicide and I have two addictions, one of them is good and led me here, and the other I can't seem to kick. I think that if I can get to that finish line, I can get back to rehab."

Another journey began there. I'm kind of a pusher because I've learned we are all so much stronger than we think we are. I didn't let him walk anymore because I knew he could do it, I knew he knew he could do it. I stayed by his side and we jogged/shuffled the next six miles, Steven suffering through leg cramps the entire way, and with 50 yards left to go, he said: "fly." To which I replied: "Let's finish this" and "keep 'Fight. Finish. Faith.' in sight." We both gave our final kick, and hugged with tears in our eyes and medals around our necks. I would love to get a Facebook message or an email from him saying he is clean and healthy again, but I know that even if that was the only official contact, Cameron will continue to inspire him as she does us all...always. I've been a runner for a long time. I can smile and dance my way across the finish line and feel good, but if I can cross the finish line and have helped someone in some way, I can smile and dance my way with purpose. Thank you, Cameron. 

Samantha Mier