Breanna Easter SpeaksUp

I first learned of SpeakUp once I accepted a job as an inpatient nurse at the Virginia Treatment Center for Children. I was intrigued by their mission, the outreach to the community, and the amount of awareness they were raising for a cause I was very passionate about, as well. At the 2017 Richmond Marathon race expo, I passed by the SpeakUp5k booth and discovered they also have a SpeakUp Race Team. I picked up one of the "I SpeakUp for___" bibs to wear as I completed the half-marathon race that year, and I was shocked at how much attention my "I Speak Up for Suicide Awareness " bib received throughout the race. I had always dreamed of one day completing a full marathon, but I was unsure if I was capable or if I would be able to maintain my motivation throughout training. I decided that 2018 would be my year to try it and signed up for a training team, as well as the SpeakUp Race Team. I completed my fundraising page and made sure that I made it personal so that I would be able to look back and remember my "why" when training got tough. I set my goal at the minimum, mostly because I expected to have to self-contribute to a majority of my goal. Marathon training was very difficult for me. I was out of shape, overweight, and much slower than my teammates. After a particularly difficult long run, I decided that this was just too much for me and my body, and I completely gave up on my dream of completing a marathon. Three weeks later, I received a notification of a donation from someone I had never even met. I revisited my fundraising page and began to feel motivated again. I was over 63% to my fundraising goal, all from other donors. I refocused myself and became disciplined with my training. I frequently visited the SpeakUp Race Team Facebook page to find encouragement in others success. I shared my fundraising page countless times on social media, and, to my surprise, by the time race day came, I not only met my goal, but I DOUBLED it - plus some! The love and support I felt on race day brought me so much gratitude, from the spectators to the SpeakUp cheer squad, especially Susan Lindsay, who ran alongside me for a couple of blocks. I am 100% certain that had I not committed to the race team the same night I signed up for the marathon, I never would have made it across the finish line. My journey to 26.2 was a life changing experience that will forever mean so much more to me than the medal hanging on my wall ever will.

Rebecca Shigley