|Matt & Jessica with Lisa and Andy before the race began|
On August 17-18, Andy Bauermeister reached his goal for something that few actually achieve. He completed a 100 mile race in Leadville, Colorado in 28 hours, 44 minutes. INCREDIBLE! People have asked me how often he stopped to sleep, and they seem shocked to learn that Andy did not sleep. This man was awake running, walking, climbing, and pushing his body and mind to the extreme for the entire duration of the race.
Some of you know Andy and Lisa, but many don't, so I want you to know some very important thing about them. Andy and Lisa are 100% committed to their family, and they are a TEAM. Andy often trained for this race at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning so that he would be finished before his family woke up. While Andy was running (sometimes as many as 100 miles in a week), Lisa was emailing, calling, and spreading the word about #runningtuckerhome. She was courageous and bold in the way she asked people to support our family and other adoptive families. Countless surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, family members, and friends wrote check after check. Andy also shared this fundraiser with coworkers, friends, and clients, many of whom generously gave to #runningtuckerhome.
Jessica and Matt are two other incredible friends. They joined Lisa and Andy on this crazy excursion, which resulted in Jessica being part of Andy's crew team (to help him eat, drink, stay motivated, etc.) and Matt joining Andy for the last 50 miles. Jessica created the #runningtuckerhome shirts and coordinated all of those details. Matt pushed Andy and wouldn't let him give up when Andy doubted his ability to finish the race. They, like so many of our amazing friends and family, have supported us emotionally and financially through the past year. It's a fact - we have the best friends ever.
One of the craziest parts of the #runningtuckerhome fundraiser is that the majority of these people do not know us, and they certainly don't know the other adoptive families who will benefit from this fundraiser. Most of them only know Lisa and Andy and still gave so generously! I had friends who budgeted their donation for 2 months in order to give to this fundraiser. I can't explain the level of gratitude I feel in my heart. There are just no words except I am humbled...so very humbled. My mind is overwhelmed when I think about the fact that God knew all of this. He knew that today, someone would give another $50, making the total $11,120, which is $1,120 past their goal. God knew that a man would find $20 in a parking lot and think to himself, "I should give this to Andy and Lisa's fundraiser" instead of keeping it for himself. It is amazing to know there are so many kind-hearted people in this world!
|"I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you."|
I have shared with you so much how I have felt going through this journey. I wanted to know more about Andy and Lisa's experience with this fundraiser, so I asked them several questions. I thought you might like to know their responses, too, so I want to share them with you.
The first thing I wanted to know was what made Andy and Lisa decide to use this race as an opportunity to raise money. Andy has ran several races, and has completed one other 100 mile race, so I was curious about their motivation to raise money for a cause this time. Andy shared that for the past year, he had wanted to run for a cause but just never landed on one. It was actually Lisa's idea to raise money for our family. She said that one night while helping me put together Tucker's puzzle, she remembered a conversation about what additional funds were needed to allow the trip to China to be feasible. Shortly after that night, Lisa remembered thinking about Andy's race and wondering if people would donate money per mile to raise money for the adoption costs. Andy shared that once Lisa suggested the idea, they just started praying that people would be impacted by it and that they would decide to give.
When I asked Andy what his initial thoughts were about raising money for Tucker and other orphans, he replied, "Initially, I was excited to do something for a cause, but I was kind of non-specifically excited about doing it for orphans. It definitely evolved." I loved this honest response because I think so many incredible things are achieved simply by making a decision. The mind starts by deciding to act, and the heart follows.
Lisa shared, "I have always felt drawn to adoption and helping children in any way we can. Of course I was even more excited about raising money to help bring Tucker home to some of our closest friends, but in the back of my mind I thought we could do more than just help Tucker. I kept thinking I wanted our goal to be $10,000 (not just $5,000, which is what Amy said they would need and what the goal was briefly originally set at), but once I put it on the site, I was consumed with negative thoughts of what other people were thinking. They probably think we were crazy or unrealistic for putting such a huge amount as our goal when we really only "needed" half of that. I wondered if people thought we were being greedy in trying to raise twice the amount of money that we needed to help the Abell's fully fund their adoption."
I also loved Lisa's response. I love that God kept bringing her back to that $10,000 number despite the doubt or worry that crept into her heart. I know Satan was trying to discourage Lisa from setting that goal so high because he knew the glory it would bring to the Lord. So thankful that Lisa listened to her heart because this LEAP OF FAITH was beautifully rewarded!
|Andy smiling during the race!|
I asked Andy how our adoption journey affected him while he trained for the race. He wrote, "I felt drawn to it. I felt close to it. I felt that I was going through some of the lows and highs with you. I felt heartbroken that LOA was taking so long, and when it came right before the race week, I felt extremely excited for you and also weird, like it was all part of Gods plan. I had never really felt that way before." LOVE THIS ANSWER!!! In hindsight, it was totally part of God's plan. Although the pain of our long wait still plagues me from time to time, I do have much more peace about why it occurred...that it really was for His glory.
When I asked what surprised Andy the most about the fundraiser, he said shared that because he was negative about the predetermined goal of $10,000, he was so surprised that they actually made their goal! Finding out so soon after he crossed the finish line was eerie, he said. Lisa was blown away by the number of people donating who have never met, and will most likely never meet, the Ryan and me. She wrote that while it was amazing to see the large amounts that some people donated, she was also "floored" by the smaller donations that she knew were A LOT of money for those families. It was incredible to see people donating multiple times (people who participated in Grace's date night, bought T-shirts, participated in the puzzle fundraiser and then donated to #runningtuckerhome).
|The elevation for the Leadville Trail 100 (Note the peaks in the middle)|
Soon after Andy crossed the finish line, he and Lisa learned that they had raised $10,000. When I asked how that felt to find out, Andy wrote, "It was surreal...like I was in a dream. Clearly it was God at work." Lisa added, "It was an incredible feeling to know we had reached our $10,000 goal. Much of the race, we didn't have any cell service, but when we did I was quickly putting updates on Facebook and not really checking my email or the fundraiser site because our cell service didn't last long. When Amy sent me the message that we reached our goal I couldn't believe it!"
I asked them how the generosity of people giving beyond meeting their stated goal has impacted them. Andy shared that when he saw people continuing to give after meeting the goal, he was blown away. Andy wrote, "Since I was so negative that we would even meet the goal, I felt that it was God saying, "Look, you didn't think I could, but I did and here is even more than that." Lisa added, "People continuing to give after the race was over has been pretty incredible. At one point after we reached $5,000 Andy said "It's easy to give to people you know, but it takes God to give to people you don't." I LOVE THIS! I have seen over and over and over again how God blessed people through their fundraising events for adoption. I see people raise every penny of their $30,000 or $40,000 needed. It is hard for people to buy into the truth that it does happen all of the time, so they do not adopt because of financial reasons. I want so badly for people to be encouraged by what Lisa and Andy have accomplished with their fundraiser!
I asked Andy and Lisa how their hearts have been changed/grown by taking action to help orphans. Andy wrote, "I don't want to stop. I feel like I can't go back to running these races for myself. I'm excited to see how God uses this opportunity and where He takes it. I want to continue. I want to make it my full time gig if possible. God can do it."
Lisa wrote, "I know God can make anything happen, especially when your goal is Kingdom focused. I don't know if adopting a child is in the plan for our family, but I know God calls us to care for the least of these, and if running races and raising money for other families is how God uses our family to care for orphans, then we won't stop doing just that. I'm not sure where we will go from here. We are open to whatever God has in mind for our family in regard to orphans."
These last answers are my favorite. Andy's story initially began with very neutral feelings about raising money for orphans and skepticism that they could raise their $10,000 goal. This experience has created an evolution, and now He has experienced first hand what God can do when you take a leap of faith! Lisa is prepared to let God use her in whatever way brings Him glory, and they are open to whatever God wants for their family. I can't wait to see what happens next in their life story. We are so thankful to have been a part of this experience and cannot wait to see how God directs the use of the money for other adoptive families!
Andy and Lisa after crossing the finish line - my favorite picture from the race, as it so perfectly captures their love, commitment, and achievement. Love you guys!