Mary Hendershot

This event appealed to me for a number of reasons.  In the spring of 2007 I was diagnosed with Exercise Induced Asthma.  Prior to that, dating back to Middle School, anything beyond speed walking and light cardio would leave me winded and with a burning sensation in my chest.  I envied recreational runners and tried desperately to become one; but no amount of training seemed to help. 

In 2004 my son was born, shortly after his first birthday he was diagnosed with pediatric asthma.  It was through his struggles and the numerous visits to pediatricians and allergists that I realized that my own physical limitations might be a result of the same disease.  I visited an allergist, explained my symptoms, and was prescribed Albuterol and instructed to use it 30 minutes prior to exercising. 

Upon first thaw, I decided it was time to try out the regimen.  I donned my running shoes, did my inhaler, and headed out the door.  I honestly didn't expect to make it to the end of the block that day but was optimistic that I would experience at least some relief from the inhibiting chest tightness I had always known.  Before I knew it, I had rounded the block and covered several more.  That day, at the age of 27, I ran the first mile of my life.  That season I completed my first (and several more) 5Ks.  For 2008 I decided to add cycling and swimming to my repertoire, and completed my first sprint triathlon.

Many consider me crazy for enjoying such rigorous activities and perhaps I am (at least a little), but I truly enjoy this lifestyle.  I love the challenge of overcoming my own limitations, and the sense of empowerment that results from accomplishing something that many consider impossible.  I thrive on the rush before a race, the physical high midway, and the exhilaration of seeing the finish line ahead.  More than all of these, however, I live for these events simply because I now can.

So Saturday, February 21, I will climb the 23 flights to the top of the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids.  In fact, I will climb them twice as part of my three-man team aptly named "Flight Risk".  I do this for myself, for my son, and for the many lives that the American Lung Association has and will continue to change with their research.

I am Mary Hendershot, and that is why I climb.