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Stories from Backstage

(26.2) Miles for Musicians

Chantel is raising money for SIMS at this year’s Austin Marathon. You can donate through her CrowdRise fundraiser to help reach her goal of $1,500. We’ll be there on February 17 to cheer her on and wish her the best of luck!

There are a lot of reasons why people run races. Everyone has a different “why”. We run for fun, we run for causes, we run to prove we can. I have run races before but I can safely say that I have never had a “why” be so personal till now.

Tragedy shook my family on February 10, 2016. My cousin Caleb died very suddenly at the age of 23.

Caleb was an amazing human being. His family adored him and people wanted to be around him. He was loved well and he loved well in return to everyone he came into contact with. He was a talented musician and vocalist. There was so much to his full and beautiful life.

Caleb did not take his own life, but it was a tragedy that could have been avoided. My family has always fought for others. They have always loved big and beyond their capacity. They have always made room for others whether it be in their home or around their kitchen table. Since Caleb’s passing, I have watched that capacity to love stretch even more. I have watched it my whole life and I am in awe of who they continue to be. They have not shrunk back in their grief. I have watched them love bigger and fight for families. Caleb had the best examples.

Caleb saw people for who they were. Caleb saw beyond their circumstances or struggles and spoke to the bigger picture of their life by loving them well. He had a way of connecting with people. There were several times over the years where a conversation with Caleb was a push I desperately needed to help me through a dark season. One conversation could take you from feeling alone and not understood to knowing you were seen and loved. My last conversation with him was about mental health. He leaned in. He listened. He looked straight into my eyes and spoke with sincerity and understanding. I walked away with more hope than I had walked in with.

When he passed, I realized that he had been that hope to many others.

Serving those in the Austin music industry has been something my husband and I have wanted to do for years but didn’t know where to start. When Caleb passed, I didn’t suddenly have resources but that was no longer an excuse. The answer was simple. I could serve, raise awareness and money for an organization already doing incredible work, using what I already had, starting with the ground between my own two feet. That was all I needed.

Instead of being overwhelmed by needs, I decided to start. I want to help put feet to the passion of those in the creative community. To come along and serve an organization that is passionate about mental health and serving in this space is the best place to start.

We see you. You are not alone. There is hope. There is help. We will fight for the bigger picture of your life. The world needs the creativity that lives in you. There are safe places and safe people who see you without judgement.

So why run?

I started running ten years ago on a treadmill at a local YMCA while my kids were in the child care area. I needed to move my body and that seemed like a logical place to start. I remember celebrating one mile, then realizing that I had a competitive side I didn’t know existed, even if it was just competition against myself. One mile turned into two and eventually became many, many miles. It has been ten years and I am still putting one foot in front of the other. I never imagined the gift that running would become for me. I realized the power of pushing myself and sweating it out. I found that to be a time to think and pray, process grief and major life changes. I have beat the “blah” days by taking 30 minutes and running when I didn’t feel like it. I have friends who I know are going to show up to run miles with me. The friends who show up to run are the friends who will show up for everything. I have found myself smiling ear to ear over the quiet, or the loud music in my ears; just being outside and looking around me as I run.

My mental health needs this running habit as much as my lungs do.

On February 17th, I will run for a far bigger reason than a finish line. I’m putting my feet where my heart is, for 26.2 miles. For you. I’m running in the face of a life shaking tragedy that happened on February 10, 2016. Every step is a declaration that death doesn’t get to win. We won’t let tragedy stop us.

I will cross that finish line, having run in honor of Caleb and for you.

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