Running With Purpose Through Tragedy

You put one foot in front of the other. Your speed increases. Its monotonous -- it's exactly what you need. See, you're running to forget -- to forget this thing that hurt you, to forget the pain. The repetitive nature of running causes you to see your life through a small tunnel -- a tunnel where pain does not exist. It's therapeutic and for a moment, everything is okay again.

Except it's not. You can't seem to run from the pain -- from tragedy. So instead, you find purpose through running -- through your tragedy.

Gulf Coast HS former cross country and track captain, Liz Roux, learned that her life story would not consist of running away from tragedy, but by finding purpose through it.

On her way to school, Roux turned the car around…something just wasn't right. As she went back to her home of her family of two, she held her adoptive mother's hand as she passed away from cancer.

Roux missed cross country practice that day. One of the few times she missed in her high school career.

"My coach knew what my absence at practice meant. The only other time I had missed practice was when we had found out about her diagnosis. So, he told the team during their cool down run, they all showed up at my house, and three days later I raced along side them," Roux said in her TEDx Talk.

Liz Roux's TEDx Talk | Run For, not From
Through this tragedy that consumed Roux, her community was there to help build her back up -- to support her. She didn't need to run from tragedy, she needed to run because of it.

"If not for my team, I don't know what would have happened. That running family became a true family when I turned 18 and my coach unofficially adopted me," Roux said.

Coach Paul Barlow and his wife Julie Barlow, welcomed a new daughter into their family. Roux now was a sister to her teammate Caroline, Clay, and was finally an older sister to her new brother, David.

Roux joined a running family and even though David was not into running as much as the rest of his siblings -- cheering them on was a family affair.

Learning to Run For, Not From

In 2015, David was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive childhood cancer and the Barlow family's world was turned upside down. The family prepared for their move to Memphis Tennessee, where David would receive treatment at St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Two years after the diagnosis, Roux held yet another hand -- this time surrounded by her adoptive family -- as they said goodbye to David and the legacy he led.

Roux had a choice. She had the choice to run from the cancer. The cancer that seemed to be chasing her down every chance it got. It chased her mother and now David and her new family. She wanted to run.

The Barlow family never wavered. They didn't run, because David never did.

For the Barlow family, it was very easy to want to resent Memphis, to resent cancer, to resent the world for taking David away from them. Instead, this running family coped and celebrated David in the best way they knew how. To run.

Running for Team David

So today, Harvard College Running Club captain, Liz Roux, University of Alabama cross country and track alumna, Caroline Barlow, Gulf Coast cross country alumnus, Clay Barlow, Coach Barlow, Julie Barlow, and numerous others in the southwest Florida running community gather every year to race in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend as they raise money to support the hospital that supported and treated David as he fought a hard battle.

As the Barlow family gathers every year during this weekend under the banner 'Team David,' they race for something larger than themselves. They race because they can, they race for David, and they race for the lives that are affected by cancer.

In 2017 alone, Team David raised over 100,000 dollars of St. Jude's total raised amount of 10 million.

For Roux and her new family, running could have easily become a way to escape tragedy. Instead, Liz, Caroline, Clay, Julie, and Paul choose to run for those who cannot, they choose to run to feel, they choose to run for David.

Donate to Team David - St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend