79 Laps

Life and DeathHelping Hands

How many laps could you run around the track in a day? 10, 15, 20? What about if you were really motivated? Could you push it to 30, 40, or even 50 laps?

What if I told you that there was a 13-year-old who ran 79 laps around a track. That’s right, 79 laps! This is what Will was able to accomplish, and he was motivated by a great cause – to raise money with his classmates for the Spinal Injuries Association as part of Quest 79, an initiative started by paralympian Karen Darke. Quest 79 asks individuals to take on challenges as a “call to action about the power we each have to do more than we believe possible, to positively affect personal change, community change, and thus global change.” At the end of his challenge, Will was very tired of course, but he also felt very good about what he accomplished.

I got the chance to sit down with Will and ask him about what he and his classmates were able to accomplish. I was very excited about the chance to meet Will because I was curious about how he felt while running the 79 laps and where the idea to raise money for the Spinal Injuries Association started. The meet-and-greet went very well, and Will was very nice throughout the interview. I felt a little nervous because it was my first interview and I didn’t want to mess up, but Will was a great person to talk to because he provided thoughtful and interesting answers.

Azucena: Do you think Quest 79 changed you as a person?

Will: I think it did, because it made me see the reality of how big of a deal it is to help other people. It made me feel good helping other people by doing something.

Azucena: How did you feel when you were done?

Will: I was tired, but I still believed, and everybody had done it with me as well.

Azucena: What motivated you to donate money to the Spinal Injuries Association?

Will: Karen, who is in charge of the whole Quest 79. My mum was going to do our prize giveaway at our school and I wanted to do something to raise money. It was kind of a thank you.

Azucena: Have you had any of these injuries?

Will: No. Not personally. But I know people that have. For example Karen. I know her.

Azucena: What did you think about while running?

Will: Just surviving really. Not getting sick. I was running alongside other people, giving them support on everything as well.

Azucena: Have you tried anything like this before?

Will: No, nothing really as big as a challenge for me. I have done little runs and stuff with schools, and soccer.

Azucena: What's the longest run you have done?

Will: Probably about 15 kilometers. I don't go far, I just do short and quick runs.

Azucena: Did you feel like quitting while running?

Will: Not really. I was kind of motivated to do the whole thing.

Azucena: How did you become involved with Quest 79? Did they tell you to join or did you join?

Will: No, I just wanted to join. I felt like it was a good thing to do. To help people.

Azucena: What message do you want to send to the people that have these injuries?

Will: Power through. Don’t let it stop who you are as a person.

Azucena: What did you feel when you joined Quest 79?

Will: When I joined it I was like sourcing out what I was supposed to do for the run and get everything sourced out. So it wasn't unorganized.

Azucena: Were you nervous? Scared, happy?

Will: I was happy I think, because I was doing a good thing, and I wanted everyone else to be happy as well.

Azucena: I can relate to that. Do you think you will do this again if you can?

Will: Hopefully. If I get the chance. But I don’t think I will at the moment because of the current situation [the COVID-19 pandemic.

Azucena: Yeahh . . .

Will: But when I get back to school I will hopefully get to do another one.

Azucena: Has this motivated you to do other sports or anything like that?

Will: Not particularly. Because it was a running event. But I still do other sports, so I don't just commit to one sport overall.

Azucena: Did you have to take a break while running?

Will: Well we took it in turns, where you split up in groups and did five laps, then switched with a different person. So then that was our break so we didn’t over exhaust ourselves.

Azucena: Do you have anything else you would like to tell me?

Will: One of the main reasons I did it was Karen's story. It really motivated me to go out and do things I haven't done before. And I thought it was very inspiring.

Azucena: Has this motivated you to do other things?

Will: Yeah. It motivated me to work with people more, and do anything really.

Will has an incredibly nice personality. Learning that he ran 79 laps just to raise money for the Spinal Injury Association was shocking and awesome for me. It opened my eyes to the many different ways we can have an impact on other people. Knowing that, when he ran the laps, he was almost my age is really inspirational and proves that anyone can create a positive impact for others! I am sure that he helped the Association by raising money, and motivated kids that had spinal injuries.

Will’s story made me think of a quote by Brené Brown: “One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide.” This quote has motivated me to work harder because other people might look up to me when they have seen that they can also accomplish anything. Will is inspiring young people to be the best they can for others. His story has motivated many young kids to never give up and showed that they can also impact people with injuries. Kids that do have injuries might be inspired to keep fighting, so they can do the same in the future and help other kids.

Azucena Garcia Barrios is a 12-year-old from San Pablo, California. She is interested in funny movies and graphic novels. She loves music, soccer, art,and dance. Azucena plays the violin and is teaching herself how to play piano. She has played violin since she was six, and piano since she was seven.

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