Janice Schuurmans, a member of Middleville (Mich.) Christian Reformed Church, said she felt called to run a 54-mile ultra marathon (twice the length of a regular marathon) in South Africa recently.
Schuurmans, a mother of two, has been running since high school. She said she has always enjoyed running on a team and the time it gave her “to think and talk with God.” Last year she joined a team that helps her win every time. Team World Vision raises money to bring clean water to people and villages who need it. “I could run, join a team, and make a difference for those in need! How could I not get involved?” she said.
The West Michigan team trained and fundraised together; they ran the Grand Rapids Marathon in the fall of 2016. Friends and family helped Schuurmans raise over $11,000. Looking at the benefits of health, friendship, and making a difference, Schuurmans said, “We all won!”
After that, she was asked to join a special race in South Africa. “My family and friends have all been very supportive,” she said. “[My husband] was a great encourager through the whole training time.” Finding the time and energy to train, and overcoming fears and discouragement was tough but worth the effort. She found sponsors for 50 children before the trip.
With the team, she spent five days in South Africa and visited Ethiopia and Kenya as well, even getting to meet her sponsor child. “The trip was amazing,” she said.