Running With a Purpose: Runners Share Inspiring Stories

Jennifer Purdie
by Jennifer Purdie
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Running With a Purpose: Runners Share Inspiring Stories

As a community of runners, we love to share our stories of inspiration and hear other runners’ stories. Nothing is more motivating than cheering each other on. For a quick hit of motivation, here are five stories that’ll make you proud to be a runner:


On April 15, 2013, Lynn Julian Crisci survived the Boston Marathon attack, along with her boyfriend of 13 years, but was left with chronic low back injury, frontal lobe brain injury, hearing loss, extreme tinnitus and severe PTSD. This, however, inspired her to run for the first time, even though she struggled with daily, severe, chronic pain and panic attacks. She finished 2014 Boston Marathon and was named one of the “Most Inspirational Women to Ever Run the Boston Marathon” by SELF magazine.


Two years ago, during a weekly club basketball game, Matt Wetherbee, a lifelong athlete, fell and sustained a severe spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. Since then, he has worked tirelessly in rehab to forge a path to recovery.

Kaitlyn Kiely, Wetherbee’s longtime girlfriend, remained by his side throughout this intense rehabilitation process and continues to serve as his greatest cheerleader. Kiely felt so inspired by Wetherbee’s relentless determination that she decided to run the Boston Marathon, pushing Wetherbee to raise money for his life-changing rehab center.

Despite Kiely not officially qualifying for Boston, the couple created their own race day and Kiely will complete the course one week prior to the Boston Marathon, running her personal race April 9, 2018.


Todd Crandell spent 13 years in the trenches of drug addiction and alcoholism, letting it destroy his mind, body and relationships by using heroin, cocaine, alcohol and prescription drugs. He was homeless and suicidal. After his third arrest, Crandell chose to retake control of his life. He began running, and since sobriety, he has raced 28 Ironman events in 15 countries and six continents, with more planned.

Crandell also founded Racing for Recovery, which helps people all over the world overcome addiction through healthy, holistic living.


Lily Rancourt was born in China with a congenital heart defect, leaving her with only half of a heart that was upside down, backward and on the right side of her chest. After being deemed terminal following two open-heart surgeries, the Rancourt family in Virginia was determined to adopt her and give her a second chance.

Lily came home with the Rancourts and began a difficult course of medical exams and treatment at Children’s National Health System. Although initially declared too high risk for a transplant, her resilient personality made doctors agree to take the risk. She received her life-saving heart transplant.

Though she was initially told she might need an oxygen tank the rest of her life, she was inspired by posters for the hospital’s “Race for Every Child” campaign and determined to run. As part of her recovery, her mother began taking Lily on short runs in the neighborhood, a few hundred feet at a time. But 15 months after her surgery, she completed the 5K Race for Every Child — assisted by her mom who pushed a stroller and carried Lily’s oxygen tank so she could take breaks. Two years after her transplant, Lily completed the race without the aid of oxygen or a stroller and is now featured on the Race for Every Child posters that were her inspiration.



Lucas Asher, the lead singer of FAULKNER, started his own running club. Called the “Unfit Running Club,” it’s designed to connect with fans and encourage them that they are “unfit to quit” — no matter what the circumstance, they must continue and never give up, whether it’s in running or in life itself.

About the Author

Jennifer Purdie
Jennifer Purdie

Jennifer is a Southern California-based freelance writer who covers topics such as health, fitness, lifestyle and travel for both national and regional publications. She runs marathons across the world and is an Ironman finisher. She is also a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. You can follow her on Twitter @jenpurdie.


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