March 14, 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the day Beth Strother lost her life to intimate partner violence. To honor Beth’s memory, runner Becky Loos decided to dedicate her race in the NYC Half Marathon.
Becky joined forces with Beth’s mother, Claire Sheppard, to raise funds for survivors who find themselves in similar situations. Claire shared with Becky that her daughter enjoyed running cross country in middle school, and Becky shared that she felt running had helped her to heal from personal struggles.
Running Heals was born, with a goal to raise $5,000 for Safe Harbor. It was Safe Harbor’s first attempt at a completely online fundraiser, and Becky was training in the snowy streets of Richmond for her first half marathon race.
The Friday before the race, Becky had met with Claire and later shared the following post with her friends on Facebook:
I’m sitting at lunch with an amazing woman who lost her daughter 20 years ago to domestic violence. She gave me her daughter’s unicorn charm that I will wear. The unicorn represents …strong, wild and fierce. And that’s how I will run NYC in honor of Beth.
By race day on March 15, Becky was in New York and Running Heals was less than $500 away from meeting the goal. After the race began, we tracked Becky’s progress through a live tracker app and watched her run throughout the city and toward the finish line.
After reaching the end, Becky shared this picture and message on Facebook:
Trying to capture this moment is hard. I smiled through Central Park and my legs felt faster than they have in awhile. I felt on fire as the lights of Times Square hit my face. I asked for help from my angels Beth and Meg to carry me home at mile 11. I’m filled with great gratitude and emotion right now because my journey to a healthier lifestyle just got kicked into full swing. Watch out world I have many more miles to conquer. Special thank you to all the cheerleaders in my life and those that donated to Safe Harbor and in memory of Beth Strother.
Support for Becky flooded into the Running Heals fundraising website, and by Monday we were beyond excited to find that we had surpassed our goal of $5,000! This was possible thanks to everyone who gave, big and small, because they wanted to support Becky and honor Beth.
Running Heals was not only a success because of the funds we raised together, but because of the awareness we brought to survivors of intimate partner violence, and the light we shone on a beautiful life that was tragically cut short.
Safe Harbor did not exist until five years after Beth was lost, but today the agency works to help survivors transform their lives, to break the cycle of violence and prevent another tragedy.