Saturday, June 18, 2005
My Treasured Friends and Family,
Today I ran 18 miles in San Francisco. I ran in the pouring rain through the Golden Gate Bridge, to the sunnier side of the city towards Pier 39, around PacBell Park, and back to Crissy Field. After over five hours of running, I was exhausted and my legs felt like they were going to fall off. However, I was amazed that I had completed such an amazing run. For the past 17 weeks I have been training for the Maui Marathon this coming September 18, 2005 and will run the 26.2 miles to raise money for the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. Although most people may think that running this marathon is crazy, I have to say that after 17 weeks of training, this has been one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences I have ever gone through.
I decided to run for various reasons. One was a personal commitment to improve my overall fitness and mental well being. Since early 2004, I was diagnosed with type II diabetes. Naturally, this came as a total shock, as I was only 28 years old when I was diagnosed. As a diabetic, I needed to find creative ways to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Committing to this marathon was a great way to do this. Each week, I will be devoting my Saturday mornings to a long run and I will be conducting at least two maintenance runs on top of that. In thirty weeks, I will have run over 350 miles of training in order to complete the Maui Marathon. In becoming fit, I will be well on my way to ensuring that as a diabetic, I will live a long and healthy life.
Another reason I am running is because I know that the ability to run, walk and simply stand on my own two feet is a gift that many of us take for granted. I came to this realization when I was spending time with my older brother. He has an arthritic condition in his knees, which at the moment makes it painful for him to walk. Seeing him struggle triggered memories of my own father who had a difficult time walking and needed crutches to support himself. Each time I run I think about my father and how he would have loved the opportunity to simply walk a few steps without crutches or the excruciating pain from his stiff joints. By running, I celebrate the simple gift of being able to do so.
Finally and probably most importantly, I am running to raise money for a great cause that is near and dear to my heart. Today, many do not know that what is now the border of San Francisco's Financial District and Chinatown once stood Manilatown. Manilatown was a haven for elderly men and women who spent the prime of their lives serving this country. Many were war veterans, farm workers, and laborers. Over thirty years ago, this community was obliterated because of the city'Âs plans for urban renewal. The event that symbolized the end of Manilatown was when the International Hotel (a.k.a. the I-Hotel), a residential hotel for the elderly, was demolished on August 4, 1977. Despite vehement community protest, residents were forcibly evicted from their homes by the San Francisco police department. Like many of you, I was unaware of such events. However, as an undergraduate, I watched Curtis Choy'Âs documentary Fall of the I-Hotel and was moved by the longstanding struggle for community survival and the right to affordable housing.
Today, we all have the opportunity to honor Manilatown and the many people who passed on waiting for replacement housing. Because of the hard work of community organizations such as the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, the I-Hotel is rising once again. The proceeds of my fundraising will support operating costs and programming in the new Manilatown Center, which will be located on the first floor of the new International Hotel Senior Housing. This center will provide a modest venue for cultural exhibitions and serve as a community educational center. Therefore, I run so that generations will have a space where they can learn about their culture and history.
I am running with a new group called the Manilatown Running Collective, otherwise known as the Runbutans. We are a group of runners who have banned together to build community through fitness and community collaboration. We want to play a major role in helping the new Manilatown and International Hotel Senior Housing rise. It is for this reason that our motto is, "For our bayani (heroes), for our community, and for Manilatown and the I-Hotel, we runbutan."
I have committed to raise $3000 for the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. Although I know it is a huge commitment, I am confident that with your support, I can reach this goal. Please contact me so that I can send you an official sponsor form. The form will have more details on where you can mail your donations. It is self-explanatory and easy to follow. Please make checks payable to the Manilatown Heritage Foundation and return them by Thursday, September 1, 2005. Again, proceeds will fund my trip as well as operating costs and programming of the Manilatown Center, which will open this summer. YOUR DONATIONS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE so please donate generously. Also, please check if your employer will match your donation. That way, your contribution can go farther in helping this wonderful cause.
I can think of no better way to celebrate life than to accomplish this incredible feat, pushing my body beyond the limit while expanding my heart to make a difference in community building. Whether you contribute $26.20 (a dollar for every marathon mile I run), $50, $100, or $500 please contribute whatever you can. When I cross the finish line, I will not only be carrying my body across the finish line, I will be crossing it with you and with those who will benefit from the money raised. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, keep checking this site for updates on my progress:) Thank you for your confidence and unyielding support.
Joanne L. Rondilla