In Your Area
Nhu and Elizabeth, who have been matched for 11 years, share their thoughts about the Patient-Runner Connection program.
Nhu, runner, with his patient connection, Elizabeth.
Some people worry that they don't have the time to commit to the program; what advice would you give them?
Elizabeth: I have to admit, I was one of them! (And yes, I do run the program now!) The year I was asked to participate, I was a senior in high school, applying to college and with a lot on my plate, or at least so I thought. I actually declined the invitation to the program because of this. Luckily, that message didn't make it to the higher powers and I was matched with Nhu, a first time runner for the team! Looking back on things now, I have never viewed our relationship as a "time commitment". Nhu, on the other hand, is the one who took on the time commitment, training to run a marathon for a cause that is close to me! To be very honest, Nhu has become an extended member of my family and I look forward to getting together with him, like I do any other family member or friend.
Nhu: Like any relationship, this varies. Some patients and their runners get together every so often for dinner and spend quality time with one another, like I do with Elizabeth; if this sounds like you, all it takes is sending out a nice email or calling your match to see if they're open to getting together. Other matches may have their own commitments or are separated by too great a distance to really spend time together - so their relationship is more of an online/pen pal type arrangement; if this sounds like you, then all you'll need to do is keep up email correspondence. It's just important that you give each other an honest idea of your circumstances so that you can figure out what works for both parties.
Although it's been a while since you were matched, how do you remember reaching out?
Nhu: I remember reaching out to Elizabeth and her family to see if they were interested in meeting up; we met up for the first time at a seafood restaurant in Maine.
Elizabeth: I distinctly remember, after declining the program, as you read above, getting an email from Nhu, introducing himself and explaining why he was running for the RFR team. I just remember him being so enthusiastic about what he was taking on and eager to meet up. Who could say no to that?! When Nhu met up with me and my family for dinner, one of our 90lb dogs stole candy right out of his shirt pocket and when he just laughed, we knew we'd be getting along well for years to come!
After 11 years matched together, what makes your relationship so successful and you motivated to continue with the program?
Nhu: I'm so proud to have seen Elizabeth accomplish a ton of milestones: graduating high school, graduating college, getting her first job out of school, leaving that job to work for the liver office, and just last October have her and her family at my wedding. Needless to say, this has been an amazing friendship!
Elizabeth: I guess what makes our relationship successful is that I don't see our relationship as part of a program anymore; I see it as part of my life and Nhu as a big part of that. My family has yet to miss cheering Nhu on along the marathon course and Nhu has yet to miss an important milestone or special occasion in my life. What I think keeps me motivated the most is knowing that even when Nhu turns in his marathon sneakers, I'm still going to have an amazing friend out of this!