(May 22, 2015) With her freshman year at Towson University just about behind her, Caitlin Adams is not backpacking through Europe, diving the Great Barrier Reef or visiting the beach–yet.
Adams decided instead to run from Cumberland to Ocean City in order to raise money for Limbs for Life, an organization that provides prosthetic limbs to those who cannot afford them.
“What I like about them is there is no limitation on who they help. Veterans, accident victims and people who were born without limbs,” the 18-year-old said.
The charity maintains a list, she said, and the next person on that list gets their prosthesis.
She has raised almost $14,000 as of earlier this week, according to her crowdsourcing site, www.crowdrise.com/caitlinsmdrun-prosthetics. Once she hits $15,000, someone else gets a replacement limb. Each prosthetic costs about $2,500 according to Adams.
Her 390-mile journey, lengthened by running around the Chesapeake Bay and not over it, is scheduled to begin Saturday and is expected to culminate with a June 27 arrival in Ocean City.
High school was a difficult time for Adams, she admitted. She decided to quit playing softball and take up running because she had fallen out of love with one and into love with another. She said she set her goals on attending a Division I school for track, which Towson is, and went so far as to change high schools to one with a better running program to achieve this goal.
But it wasn’t so easy.
“Cross country was miserable,” she said.
Her love of running was not, after all, unconditional.
“I wanted to run for a purpose again. I got a journal and wrote down my goals — the things I wanted to achieve in my life. Running across Maryland was one of them,” she said.
She found additional inspiration in a quote attributed to actor Will Smith, “If you’re not making someone else’s life better, you’re wasting your time.”
She had the what and the why, but now she needed a who.
“I had this fascination with the word prosthetic,” she said, explaining the word got stuck in her head before any of these preparations had been made, years earlier in fact.
“I remember looking it up on my iPod dictionary as a junior in high school. It just popped into my brain. I can’t think of a reason why, but maybe God was speaking to me,” she said, admitting she’s not overly religious.
Using the inspiration where she found it, she eventually settled on Limbs for Life.
“It hit me what it would be like if I woke up without legs one morning what an impact that would have on me. I run in good times and bad. Running is my outlet to feel good,” she said.
Another idea, this time provided by a woman in Texas, Angie Lang, who received a limb due to Adams’ effort, brought everything together.
“She was super excited to stand in line. People complain about standing in line or having to walk anywhere,” she said.
Ideally, Adams said she would like to raise enough money to fund all limbs for the 238 people on Limbs for Life’s list. However, with this being her first run across the state, she said she’d be happy to raise $20,000 and find hotel rooms along her route willing to put her up for the night.
Her route is broken into several segments and distances, with the longest being about 20 miles. Adams said she’s never run a marathon, and her personal best distance is about 17 miles. With that explained, she said she wouldn’t do 20 miles all at once, but break it into smaller bits achieved throughout the day.
“You’ve got to break it up, otherwise you’re just asking for injury. As for completing the rest of the trip? I have no doubts,” Adams said.