Trisha and me after the 2009 Bayshore races -- she ran the half marathon, I ran the 10k.

I love hearing from runners who are training for their first marathon. I admit to getting a little giddy, I’m so excited for them. I think it’s because yes, I’m a nut-ball about this sport and had such an amazing experience training for my own first marathon a year ago. But I also believe so strongly in distance running’s power to push our minds and bodies to places we never knew we could go. I am not saying marathons are for everyone—I enjoy shorter distances, too, for many reasons—but for many of us, 26.2 miles is pretty significant.

So when my friend Trisha told me she’d be running her first one, the Bayshore Marathon this spring, you can imagine my happiness—not only is Trisha one of my oldest and dearest friends, she’s also the person who came alongside me during the final half mile of my first marathon and truly powered me through to the finish line.

Every runner has a story about what’s behind their commitment of training for 26.2 miles, and Trisha is no different. Hers is especially interesting, not only because she’s a mom of five kids ages 11 and under (including almost 4-year-old twin boys), but because she’s running the Bayshore with a specific purpose: to raise awareness and funds for The Way Home, a ministry supporting orphans in Uganda. To anyone who knows Trisha, it’s no surprise she’d choose to do this while tackling her longest race distance. She’s a woman of great faith—always has been, even back in junior high school when we became friends during seventh-grade basketball.

Trisha has been running for about 20 years. She ran track throughout school, and found she put even more effort into it when she was in college. “It was then that it became my own. I ran five to six days a week and averaged 25 to 40 miles a week,” she says. “I ran 5k’s, 10k’s and several half marathon relays. Running was a new love of mine. No one was telling me where and when to run. Throughout my pregnancies I took time off, but here I am, five children later and still running.”

Trisha is blogging about her training, and I wanted to share more of her story here. Read on for details of this ministry, including how you can help if you feel so inclined. And, of course I had to find out how she fits in training while caring for her family. Did I mention that she homeschools her kids??

Tell me about The Way Home and how you came to learn about this organization.

When we first moved to Boyne City ’04 we would often take walks around the block. Almost every day I would see a little boy who captured my attention. It was a Ugandan boy named Joseph. I wanted to know Joseph’s story. I had recently been to Uganda to visit my twin sister, and I was drawn to people who had also been there. I would ask Joseph questions, but I wanted the full story of what brought him to the U.S. When I finally met Joseph’s parents I was overwhelmed at how much we had in common. We had both been in the same parts of Uganda.  I was there in ’98, and Marcia and Russ Baugh (Joseph’s parents) were there around the same time. The Baughs were in Uganda to build an orphanage. During their time there, they adopted Joseph. Joseph was a baby in one of the orphanages that Marcia and Russ worked with. My heart was touched to not only meet Joseph, but to know that his future was bright. You see, during my time in Uganda, I witnessed dozens of orphans on the streets, begging for food, crawling about the dumps in search for a meal, or watching them bury their innocent faces in a cloth filled with gasoline to get a high so they wouldn’t have to face the present day. Marcia and Russ were heroes to me; they had saved a young boy from a hopeless future. We got to know each other very well, and became great friends. Our sons became best friends. Watching them play football together daily, and having Joe in our home was always a joy.

The widowed "grannies" in Uganda are the present day heroes there. They are the ones keeping the increase in the street orphan population from skyrocketing. They bury their own children, who have succumbed to AIDS, and immediately begin caring for their orphaned grandchildren, keeping them in a "family" of sorts, and from becoming another addition to the horrendous homeless orphan statistics.

Last year Joseph’s family felt a calling to go back to Uganda. They left in January of 2011, starting their new ministry for orphans The Way Home. The Way Home ministry was birthed out of their love for Uganda, and their burden for the millions of orphans, their adoption of Joseph (a former Ugandan orphan) and the subsequent adoptions of two grandchildren. The widowed grannies in Uganda are the present day HEROES there. They are widows and the one’s keeping the increase in the street orphan population from skyrocketing. They bury their own children, who have succumbed to AIDS, and immediately begin caring for their orphaned grandchildren, keeping them in a “family” of sorts, and from becoming another addition to the horrendous homeless orphan statistics! Their living conditions are destitute. The objective of the Grannies program is to empower these Heroes to survive and raise their orphaned grandchildren to have shelter and food when they are gone and to be introduced to Jesus as the source of life and a FOREVER Home. The Way Home project has been working in one of the highest AIDS districts of Uganda since March 2011. They have 40 grannies and 205 orphans in the program to date. The goals are physical family stability (shelter & food) spiritual family stability (teaching the gospel, health/hygiene/HIV, Farming God’s Way, granny/orphan support groups). The heart of The Way Home project is ORPHANS. A contract is signed upon the start of home construction stating that, upon the granny’s death, the home, the land and garden, will go to the surviving orphaned grandchildren…they will be the new “family” empowered to survive and thrive even on their own…with the continued mentoring of TWH ministry. The Granny families average one granny to 5 orphans. The smallest family is Granny Abigaile who is blind but only has one 4 year old orphaned granddaughter, and the largest granny family is Granny Getulida who is raising 14 (ages 11 to 2, with two 2- and 5-year olds and three 7-year-olds among them) orphans of her two deceased children. They are identified through the pastors of the local village church’s. Their conditions are outrageous destitute living, cooking with open fires, and caring for any chickens, pigs or goats that very few might be privileged to own, all in the same small mud hut and without any bathroom.

How did it come about that you tied your interest in helping this ministry with running a marathon?

Last year when I finished my fourth half marathon, I felt a need to do more than just run for a time. I wanted to run for something bigger. Last October when Marcia and Russ came back to the states for a short time, they showed a video of what they were doing in Uganda. I immediately felt a need to do something—I wanted to build a home. Since I can’t personally go there and do it, I decided to try and work out some financing to see how much I could give, but that still didn’t seem be enough. In November as I was getting ready to sign up for the Bayshore Half, I knew I wanted to run for a purpose. I immediately thought about The Way Home. I shared this with my husband Todd and he thought it was a great idea. He suggested I run the full marathon though. I began to come up with excuses as to why that might be too much; with five kids and all the responsibilities I have in my life right now … that might not be the best idea.  Todd reminded me that a marathon has always been one of my life-long goals. Why not mesh it together with something else that means so much to me. It was then that I decided to JUST DO IT. I signed up for the full, and decided not to worry about all the details. If God put it on my heart, He will work it all out!

Trisha is training in Boyne City, Mich., running outside as much as possible.

What kind of training plan are you following, and how’s it going so far?

I decided to go with Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 training program. It seems pretty manageable right now. I have 4 run days, 1 cross training day and 2 rest days. My goals for the race are to finish in four hours or less.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of planning and training for this race? How about the most rewarding?

The most challenging part of my training is trying to balance my time.  I am homeschooling my children this year, and I am a typical busy mom. Trying to fit it all in and giving myself enough rest will be tough. I am determined to keep my family first though, they are my first priority! The most rewarding part of this training and the marathon in general is what it is teaching both my children and me. My children pray for the orphans in Uganda every day. My running this marathon is living out what I have been teaching them. The other day my 8-year-old son Brayton said that he, too, wants to run for orphans.

Love the gloves. :)


Trisha hopes to raise enough funds to build at least one home for orphans. The Way Home builds a small, strong brick home and a two-room bath/latrine for orphans. The cost for each home and bathroom is $1,700. Another component of the ministry is teaching families a farming program that if properly followed, using resources readily available to them, increases their yield up to 10 times. To learn more and give to this ministry, visit The Way Home here.

Anyone else here running to raise awareness and funds for a specific cause?

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