By James Addis
Chicago may have missed out on the Olympic Games, but it still has the Chicago Marathon next week, attracting more than 40,000 runners. And more than 1,200 of them have joined Team World Vision to raise money for clean water projects in Kenya.
I’m leaving Friday to cover the marathon for World Vision, and I’m looking forward to it. The enthusiasm of both runners and spectators is a boost. And there are always good stories among the Team World Vision runners.
The first time I was at the event, in 2007, I met Deanna Valadez (her story appeared in the Spring 2008 magazine). Deanna had set the extraordinarily ambitious goal of raising $10,000. She felt the Lord leading her to abandon her desire to have a third child and concentrate on addressing the needs of others instead. Also, her husband, Marc, thought two daughters were plenty.
Alas, when Deanna turned up to the pre-race dinner, she had just $1,700 in pledges. Not bad, but a long way from what she was aiming for. Asked if she would get any special reward for raising $10,000, Marc unwisely blurted out, “She gets to have a third child,” thinking his wife had absolutely no chance of raising the sum before the run. But the offer immediately set tongues wagging. Within five minutes, two couples presented Deanna with checks for $5,000 each.
Well, two years later and with the next marathon on my mind, I wondered if Deanna’s promised third child ever materialized. So I phoned her up this week, and guess what? She happened to be feeding her 10-month-old son, Samuel, born—would you believe?—on the eve of the 2008 Chicago Marathon.
Yes, Marc proved to be a man of his word. And now with a healthy and lively son to join his two daughters, he has no regrets about his rash offer. “It’s been one more gift of many in my life,” he says.
Deanna and Marc felt led to call the child Samuel, though only later realized the significance. Samuel, of course, was the biblical prophet whose birth was a miraculous gift of God to his mother, Hannah.