Last weekend, I completed the Glass Slipper Challenge at Walt Disney World. This involved running a 10K on Saturday followed by a half marathon on Sunday.

What in the world would possess me to run 19.3 miles in one weekend?

There were many reasons, but one of the biggest was because I wanted to show my daughters that there wasn’t anything they couldn’t do if they worked hard for it. I wanted them to see that physical fitness is not about what a body looks like, but about what a body is capable of doing.

The Glass Slipper Challenge was just the first half of this year’s running journey. I will be traveling to California to run another 19.3 miles for the Pixie Dust Challenge in May. Last weekend’s races were for my own children, but I am running the upcoming challenge for all of the children at St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

St. Jude provides no-cost treatment, travel, housing and food for sick children and their families. It costs $2 million a day to operate St. Jude, and 70 percent of those funds come from public donations.

We are all very familiar with the incredibly high cost of health care in this country. After my daughter’s 89-day stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, we were hit with a $750,000 hospital bill. No family should have to face that kind of financial stress while also caring for a sick child.

One family who has benefited from St. Jude’s services is dear to the hearts of many people in Fredericksburg. Josh Hardy made national headlines in 2014 when his family launched a grassroots social media campaign to put pressure on a pharmaceutical company to release an experimental drug to treat a life-threatening viral infection.

The campaign was successful and Josh was able to return to Virginia after spending months at St. Jude in Memphis, Tenn. Sadly, Josh has had to return to St. Jude due to a combination of a compromised immune system, reduced lung function and a viral infection.

When I spoke with his mom, Aimee, earlier this week, she raved about the care that Josh has received at St. Jude. The doctors and nurses are doing everything in their power to see that Josh is able to live a long and healthy life.

Aimee is a woman of strong faith and she has consistently prayed for healing for her son. Even though Josh is intubated right now, he still moves his lips in prayer with her when she prays Scripture verses over him.

She also shared that through all the sickness and treatment, Josh is still very much a 9-year-old boy. He got very upset a few days ago when he returned to playing one of his favorite electronic games. Because he had not been baking virtual cakes and cupcakes, all of his customers were gone. Now Aimee and her mother-in-law are in charge of the in-app baking while Josh is unable to take care of it himself.

I am so inspired by this family and am honored to be able to run as a St. Jude Hero and raise money for the hospital in Josh’s name. When we read about the early church in the New Testament, we learn that they “sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” (Acts 2:45)

These early believers lived as one family. They cared for one another and made sure that the needs of everyone were met. As modern-day Christians, we have the chance to help meet the needs of the Hardy family and others like them through supporting the efforts of St. Jude to provide no-cost medical care to these precious children.

Would you please join me in supporting these families by sponsoring me as I run 19.3 miles over two days? It is going to be a challenge, but it will be nothing compared with what the children and families at St. Jude face every day.

Visit my blog at today for the link to my St. Jude Hero fundraising page.

Heather Ablondi is a women’s ministry speaker and author who lives in Fredericksburg.

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