Running to Fight AIDS

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Despite strong winds and rain, Rev. John de Vries felt the prayers of God’s people propelling him to the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 16.

The Christian Reformed chaplain, who works at the Chatham-Kent (Ont.) Health Alliance, ran the world’s oldest marathon for the 13th time. But this time he ran to raise money to help the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee combat HIV/AIDS.

De Vries dubbed his run “John4John.” He ran in honor of John Bara of Zambia. Bara was born with HIV and died of AIDS at age 10. De Vries said that he thought about Bara and children like him as his feet pounded the streets of Boston.

“I thought how HIV/AIDS is so socially, politically, and spiritually devastating to villages in Africa and to the people’s lives there,” said de Vries.

He said knowing that other people were pulling for him and praying for him helped as he hit the infamous Heartbreak Hill. “I was very aware that I was not alone. There were many people with me, praying for me.”

The chaplain was amazed at the generosity of the community. “I was impressed by the people who gave, such as the preschooler who gave $10, the company in Colorado that gave $500, and the people in Boston from different churches who said ‘We’re having an offering for you.’”

The final tally isn’t in yet, but de Vries’s run is expected to raise over $13,000.

About the Author

Heather Wright is a freelance writer from Petrolia, Ontario.

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