Do it because you can. Do it for Dante.

Finding the motivation and desire to exercise can be a tall order some days. The excuses to skip a visit to the gym or walk around the neighborhood are always within reach.

I don’t have time.  I’m too tired. I’ll do it tomorrow.  

In the moment, we convince ourselves that these are valid excuses.  However, we can find ourselves repeatedly reaching into the safety net of I’ll do it tomorrow.

What if that safety net slipped right from underneath you?  What if moving your body was no longer an option?  What if your ability to run, jump, walk or even pedal a bike vanished in an instant? What if a rare disease changed life as you knew it?

That’s what happened to my buddy Dante Herrera. I met him when he was 12 years old, and he had the brightest spirit and most contagious laugh I’ve ever heard. Dante loved running, until Batten disease  slowly took it away from him. Batten Disease is a rare and fatal genetic disorder that essentially means his brain is shrinking.  Over time, he has lost the ability to do most things kids his age may take for granted.  His sight, hearing and motor skills continue to decline.

Running again would mean the world to Dante.  I’m sure there wouldn’t be an excuse big enough to keep him from putting one foot in front of the other on the pavement.  Since I met him, he has become one of my biggest inspirations.  On days when I glance at the endless list of excuses not to exercise, I think of Dante. Think of everyone like him who would give anything to be in the position to have the choice. Do it because you can.

You can even dedicate some of your workouts to those who can no longer run, walk or stand on their own.  Dante’s mom recently told me about http://www.whoirun4.com/.  I just signed up to run for Dante, and definitely thought of him when I pushed through the Newport News One City Marathon 8K in 2015.

Love you all, and may God bless you on your journey!

Jessica

(Originally published March 2015)