Last week, the running world lost a special member. You probably never met Tiffany and you definitely never read about her races or times. But her story is one that hit the running community and my small town community very hard.
Last Tuesday night we were up in Northern Michigan on the last evening of our visit with my family. I am from a very small town (think 2 stop lights) and graduated with a class of 107 students. We often laugh that everyone knows your business and when you go to the grocery store you have to plan on being there an extra 15-20 minutes because you will inevitably run into someone you know (usually a former teacher or classmate).
As we were visiting with the family there was breaking news that a gunman was on the loose in our small town. Everyone was on edge and as you can imagine social media was abuzz with speculation. What ended in a standoff until the wee hours of the morning left one woman and her father dead and her four children without a mother.
Things like this don’t happen in our small town and it hit everyone very hard. Tiffany was a mom of four who was voted by the local paper as “Mom of the Year” in 2012. She had also taken up running in the last little while and this past fall completed her first half marathon. Running wasn’t easy for her but it seems that it was something she worked hard at, took a lot of pride in, and was perhaps a special escape for her.
As I read Facebook statuses from her friends I was struck by how loved she was by so many people. The title from today’s post came from a comment made by one of her friends in regards to the outpouring of love for Tiffany and what a special person she was.
The local paper had an article about her in the days after her death and they mentioned a private Facebook page Tiffany belonged to called “The Pathetic Runners Group.” This group already had 5,000 members and in the days since I had joined it has grown to over 6,000. This was a special place where Tiffany had shared a bit of her struggles as a mom, a new runner, and her pending divorce. Other runners helped encourage her to do what was best for her and her children.
Reading the comments and stories in this group you would think that each member personally knew Tiffany. But they simply had a connection through running. So many people came forward to help fundraise for her children and her mom who not only lost her husband but is also taking over raising her grandchildren. Within days T-shirts had been made, local and virtual races were being formed, and carpools were being created to drive to her memorial service from hundreds of miles away. Thousands of members from around the country were discussing their friend and ways to help her family with the hashtag #PRGRunsForTiffany.
As we mourn the loss of a mom, daughter and fellow runner it again amazes me to see how the running community can so quickly and easily come together for its fellow members and families. Although Tiffany may have been a stranger in person, she was a family member in spirit.
If you would like to read more about Tiffany and some of the fundraisers that are being created please check out these articles.