The Charity Miles Champion this week is Cynthia Petrovits. Her story is incredibly inspiring, so we’ll just let her tell it.
I consider myself a “normal” human being -meaning there is nothing so romantic, tragic or inspirational that has occurred in my life to make it “TMZ" worthy.
By day I am a Public High School art teacher (17 years and counting) by night I am wife and a mom to two furry monsters named Fletch and Winston (aka our lab mix rescues). But most of all I am just a girl running around the local rail trail trying to figure out why she was put on this earth.
When it comes to running, I showed up pretty late to the “start line” (pretty late meaning age 39). Like most newbies I found myself caving into peer pressure when asked by a friend if I would run the 2010 Philly Half Marathon with her. She was a runner, I was not (which was blindingly apparent by my layers of cotton, bolting out of the start and vomiting by mile 5). My first Half Marathon was as I like say "horrifically magical” and to my surprise it left me wanting more.
My love for running is as equally great as my love for dogs. I found this out the hard way, when the death of our senior rescue dog Atticus coincided with the running of my first Half Marathon. Atticus (the most wonderful, gentle, sweetie pie of a dog, ever!) had only been a part of our family for 6 months when he was diagnosed with cancer. My husband and I did everything we could but the Chemo didn’t take and we had to say goodbye. We were devastated. There is nothing that can compare to the love of a dog or the loss of one.
Needless to say, in 2010 this newbie runner ran a whole lot of “ugly cry” long runs and in the process of grieving the death of Atticus I started to become more aware of the person I was meant to be.
I am a true believer in leading by example and teaching though experience. Giving back is what makes this world go around. I’m not sure I could ever “give back” enough to equal the amount of love I felt from Atticus but I am on a mission to try. That’s why this runner “uses her feet to help paws!”
Using running as a platform to raise money for the shelter dog cause is what I am all about. However, early on in this process I realized that asking people for money was not my cup of tea. I wanted people to be invested, to be a part of my cheer team, to be part of my race experience -not just hand over a check. So, this creative little art teacher, came up with the idea to craft handmade T-shirts and stuffed glove dogs to sell at race expos in order to raise money! Wouldn’t you know, people LOVED it, and I LOVE that they LOVED it.
I’ve been a sponsored runner via my Charity Miles App, since February 2, 2014! Yippee! Each and every step, over 1300 and counting, has been for the ASPCA! I am a proud alumni of the North Shore Animal League’s 2012/2013 NY City Marathon Team Animal League. I’ve helped organize two charity running teams for our local SPCA. In October, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon (via a lottery entry!) in honor of the Warrior Dog Foundation and in 2015 I committed to raising the funds to sponsor the rescue, training and life time care of a National Disaster Search and Rescue Dog.
I have a ton of other “big ideas” in my brain, when it comes to using my feet to help paws, but for the moment I am focusing on something really special and really personal. In April, just 2 weeks after my 45th birthday (and with 7 Marathons and 9 Half Marathons under my belt) I will running my first Boston Marathon! —for Atticus.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from being part of a forever family it’s that dogs aren’t just pets they are souls here on earth, with a higher purpose. They possess powers to teach, heal and transform. Six years of running (holy cow! can’t believe that) has brought with it many blessings. I have experienced moments of complete clarity and gratitude but most of all I know it is leading me on the path to fulfilling my purpose. I may not be completely sure what that really looks like but for the moment it starts with giving back.
I can’t thank Charity Miles enough for allowing me the opportunity to do what I love for the cause that I love. It’s genius! You guys are a very special group of people! Every mile does matter.