Mary Proctor, a 2012 graduate from Abingdon High School and 2015 graduate from James Madison University is undergoing a tremendous feat this summer. She has been dedicating this new year to mentally and physically prepare to run across the country. Yes. That's right. Running across the whole country.
For some people running 4 miles may sound like a big deal but Mary will be running over 4,000 miles from San Francisco, CA to Baltimore, MD during the Summer of 2016. Why would she agree to this extreme task?
"I really admire my dad and how he serves others," she said. "When I was in middle school, I found out that he had Cancer and it really devastated me."
Her run is dedicated to her father who battled and won over cancer on multiple occasions. Her father is none other than Barry Proctor, a dedicated member of the Virginia Synod Council. Though Barry has beaten Cancer, Mary still feels a strong connection with the community who is impacted by Cancer.
Mary is completing her run with an organization called 4K for Cancer and will be a part of Team Baltimore. She will join 28 other runners as they travel on foot for over 4,000 miles to raise awareness and raise money for cancer survivors through the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Each day she will be interacting with survivors affected by cancer and on rest days the team will be doing awareness campaigns and talks around the cities.
Mary's goal is to raise $5,000 to support families who need assistance during a difficult time. Team Baltimore will also personally be giving scholarships, which are funded by the donations, to recipients that have undergone an application process.
"This is going to be a challenging but rewarding summer because I get to bring this light of hope to survivors and families," Mary said. "Our mission for service is to relieve the uncertainty and hardships that can accompany cancer. I want to provide listening ears and an open heart to the individuals that will be facing a larger challenge than this 4K run. I'm rooting them on and supporting them with all I've got. Training, raising money, and raising awareness about 4K for Cancer and The Ulman Cancer Fund, as well as sharing my connection to the cancer community, allows me to connect with each individual. God has given me this incredible venture and this is all for His glory!"
It seems that bringing God glory is a motivation for how Mary lives the rest of her life as well, an ethic that she credits to her parents. Last month she found out that she has been accepted into Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM), a program of the ELCA that will allow Mary to live in a different country for 1 year where her life will be dedicated to serving a community.
"The biggest thing that I have learned recently is that service is the work of accompaniment," she said. "It's being at peace and community with those around me, which is important to remember, especially when I feel like I may not be good enough."
Later this month Mary will find out where she will be serving God next year but for now her mind is on fundraising for her run across America.
Her dream of participating in this 4K for Cancer run cannot happen unless she obtains financial support to reach her fundraising goal of $5,000. St. Luke Lutheran Church in Culpeper, where her sister Rev. Kate Costa is the pastor, has supported Mary through a bake sale and other organizations and friends are joining her efforts. The deadline to be a runner is the beginning of May. All donations are tax-deductible.
"This will be an incredible opportunity and I'm grateful to be using my gift of running to reach out to my neighbors."
If you would like to support Mary by check, you can mail them to:
4K for Cancer
1215 E Fort Ave, Suite 104
Baltimore, MD 21230
*include my name, Mary Proctor, and your email on the memo line. Checks should be written to the Ulman Cancer Fund.
"I don't know what I am going to be doing with my life, but I know I want it to be greater than myself," Mary said. "Everything I've done is not because of who I am but it's because of what God has done. I just want to serve."