Sunday, October 4, 2015

#MoveMountains with Jenny LaBaw

Jenny LaBaw (center) and some friends running during #MoveMountains
[photo courtesy of LaBaw's Instagram page]
When Jenny LaBaw tweaked her neck during a 2012 CrossFit workout, she was determined to rest, heal and resume training at the same level.

Determination has never been a problem for the 33-year-old LaBaw, you see. The year before, LaBaw placed sixth in the CrossFit Games, which pitted elite athletes from about the world against each other in a grueling, two-day competition. She was well on her way back to the 2012 CrossFit Games, when she suffered her neck injury.

This time around, her body had other ideas.

The injury was worse than she thought, so once the realization sank in that it would prevent her from returning to a competitive level, LaBaw (who runs her own training gym out of the Chico home she built with her boyfriend, Marcus Brown) searched for a new challenge.

So, as the couple drove through Colorado last summer to visit LaBaw’s family (she’s a native of Rifle, Colorado), it hit her.

“We were driving over the mountains. I looked at Marcus with tears streaming down my face, and I said, ‘It’s time. I’m going to run across Colorado for epilepsy’,” LaBaw said. “And he just said, ‘Alright, let’s do it’.”

This was the genesis of #MoveMountains, LaBaw’s month-long campaign to create awareness and raise money for education and research to find a cure for epilepsy. LaBaw, who lives with epilepsy, is running 500 miles across the Colorado Rockies, raising money online and at fundraising stops along the way.

LaBaw’s ultimate goal is to raise $50,000 for the Epilepsy Foundation, for which she’s an advocate in their Athletes vs. Epilepsy program. LaBaw’s fundraising page includes a way to donate online, and she provides regular updates to her blog, Facebook and Instagram pages.

After #MoveMountains became reality, LaBaw who experienced her first seizure at age 8, and Brown began planning dates, the route and logistics. Last month, the couple piled into their rented a Ford F-350 (which they essentially converted into a motor home) and, along with their dogs and LaBaw’s massage therapist, drove to Colorado. LaBaw began her 500-mile run Sept. 19 and will finish Oct. 19.

One of LaBaw’s goals for #MoveMountains is to raise awareness. According to Cure Epilepsy, 1 in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy in their lifetime. Meaning, look around, and you’re likely to see someone who currently has or will develop epilepsy. And she’s also out to prove that the disease doesn’t have to hold back those who have it.

#MoveMountains is starting conversations and connecting people who likely would have no platform to talk about epilepsy.

“People are coming out and sharing their stories. I’ve been on the phone having hour-long conversations with people. Hopefully, it’s healing for them and for me,” said LaBaw. “It’s always good to know you have people who relate to you and your stories, and know you’re not alone.”

To donate to #MoveMountains, please visit LaBaw’s fundraising page.

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