img_7773Hi and Happy New Year!
2016 was one of the most important and transforming years of my life. It began with a decision in early January to run the 2016 Chicago marathon for Team World Vision. In April I was given the opportunity of a lifetime and flew to California for a trapeze lesson (an item on my list of dreams.) While there, I was inspired to further develop my life goals list with raising $10,000 for Team World Vision claiming the #2 spot. My inner dialogue went something like this–
“Wow, that will be cool to pursue in a few years”
“Why wait?”
“This is crazy! There is no way I can do that right now!
“Why not?”
“I don’t know enough people and my social demographic consists of young professionals, college and graduate students”
“Why NOT?”

$10,000 equates to 200 individuals with clean water access for life. Sustainable projects extending beyond collapsible wells and enabling community leadership to preserve and maintain is something I’m all about.

Clean water is a necessity I take for granted every day. Access to an unlimited supply has ensured I have every opportunity for hydration and am spared from the disease and death associated with unclean water. Unfortunately, this privilege is not granted to every life in our current world (hence why I use “privilege” in place of a spot I believe is best described by the definition of “human right”)

The journey to #200 was challenging, inspiring and life-changing. It was a leap outside my comfort zone and forced me to grow mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

I grew in appreciation for my circumstances, I grew in physical and mental strength and stamina. I grew in the embrace of my limitations while embracing a limitless lifestyle through faith in the One above. I became more willing to ask for help, admit my weaknesses and more readily see the possibility in the word “WE

$10,000 didn’t happen because of ME.

Thanks to the compassion and generosity of 168 individuals from all over the world, 200 more individuals received clean water for life last year. As a team, this number climbed to 38,000.

INCREDIBLE. This number impacts CITIES, VILLAGES, and FAMILIES from an INDIVIDUAL core.
2017 is starting off with every impression of having an impact of similar caliber. I’ve signed up for both the Boston and NYC marathons with TWV in hopes of providing clean water to 100 more individuals, and raising $5,000 for child protection services.

I’ve never trained for two marathons in one year. I’ve never trained for a marathon in Winter. I’ve never trained for a marathon in another country (or LIVED in another country.) I’ve also never desired to run for causes more dear to my heart. Im thrilled to see what will happen, nervous about the challenges ahead and incredibly grateful for the opportunity to combine my passions for adventure, running, and helping the less fortunate in their most basic of needs.
Once again I realize I can’t meet these goals on my own but am ready and willing to move these clean water mountains (REALIZING the Man upstairs will orchestrate the move) Will you be a mountain mover too?

Go to teamworldvision.org to learn more about their clean water projects. Search for “Leah Nichols” in the fundraiser search tab to join me in fighting against the clean water crisis.


Another side

If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you may have gotten a sense that I haven’t always coped with life in healthy ways. You may have learned my running used to not have a positive purpose. You may have gotten a drift that clean water is a cause I 100% support, believing it to be an inalienable right of every individuals. What I have yet to share with you is the history behind why life seemed so unbearable to me, how I became filled with a warped sense of self that sent me down a spiraling journey of self-injury. It is part of this side of my story however, that helped growa passion for clean water in me. Here’s part of the tale.

I was 11 years old the first time I remember attracting an older man’s attention. For two years, a man 40 years my senior flattered me with gifts, sat in the back pew of all my shows, took advantage of my compassion and naivety. For two years I silently bore the weight of his uncomfortable attention, the stifling closeness, the manipulation that I was responsible for his happiness. I felt trapped, broken, scared. I believed if I said anything or stopped responding to his affection, he would do something drastic with his life. I am forever grateful my mother had the insight to realize more lay under the surface of what I shared when I finally did have the courage to speak up. I never saw him again. This side of my story and the trauma I experienced were not the sole cause of my addiction and mental health deterioration. They did however, contribute significantly to the creation of an identity and thought pattern filled with self-loathing, a false sense of being unlovable, believing I was not good enough.

In truth, no human is cabaple of entirely satisfying someone’s needs. In truth, my responsibility as an 11 and 12 year old was not to fulfill this older man’s perverted yearning for relationship. In truth, everyday across the globe and down the street, men, women and children fall victim to the manipulation, violence and captivity of perverted relationships, of slavery. Everyday, men, women and children are held captive–not just with chains and whips, but also with the mental and emotional chains formed through control, bondage, abuse. While victims are claimed through many different methods and mediums, the walk for water is one of the largest sources of human trafficking. The remote routes, averaging 3.74 miles one way, are the perfect hiding place for evil to lurk patiently.

Clean water eliminates illness, dehydration, death. Clean water increases quality of life on both individual and communal levels as more time and energy are now available to put to community advancement projects such as education and farm development. Clean water can spare 11 and 12 year old children (as well as individuals of all other ages) from the horrors of chains, of sunless, airless, soiled quarters, of the physical, mental and emotional abuse of trafficking lords and customers. Personally, that means the world to me. Personally, I would run 10,000 miles for that (with a goal of completing a marathon in all seven continents and all seven world majors, I’m working on that!)) The horrors experienced by over 115 million children alone each min of the day is unacceptible. It’s dispicable. That statistic IS destroyable. One gift of clean water at a time. It’s possible. We can tangibly eliminate a primary source for human trafficking. Will you help?