By Micaela Freeman | Staff Writer
Waco hosted Miracle Match Marathon over the weekend to benefit Be The Match, a program that allows bone marrow donors to become matches to recipients. The two-day event had events for every level of fitness, including half, full and ultra marathons on Sunday morning. It offered hundreds of runners the chance to tour Cameron Park, Baylor campus and downtown Waco on foot.
The 5K and 10K kicked off the weekend on Saturday, while the longer races were on Sunday. The races attracted people from all over Texas and the country. The weekend raised awareness for Be The Match and allowed participants to register as donors. All of the proceeds from the races went to Be The Match, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program.
The marathon race has become known as the toughest marathon in Texas with the saying, “The Toughest in Texas; No Bull.” This is in part due to the course’s hills and the climb up Jacob’s Ladder in Cameron Park. The hilly marathon is entirely local, with man-made medals, local food and a course that runs through Baylor’s campus, Cameron Park and the Waco Suspension Bridge.
Miracle Match Marathon’s official website allowed participants to leave their stories and testimonials about what the race meant for them.
“At the finish line, there is a huge party waiting with brisket tacos and adult beverages. Always unique, hand-made medals and awards! PLUS, this race is about saving lives and BE THE MATCH. Win-Win,” wrote Ruel Sword in a testimony about Miracle Match Marathon.
Nancy Goodnight, local marathoner, made the event possible as director. As special events coordinator for Scott & White’s Marrow Donor Program, Goodnight is responsible for every aspect of the race from registration to awards. Passionate about Be The Match and local health, Goodnight is eager to carry out her volunteering acts throughout her community.
“I originally got involved as a runner but I learned through the years what it really meant to be a part of Miracle Match Marathon, which sounds like a dating service but isn’t,” Goodnight said. “I’ve got to meet people who are searching and see survivors all over.”
In 2009, Goodnight became the director of Miracle Match Marathon and hasn’t looked back. In 2004, she became an advocate for her community and felt pulled towards volunteering in any way she could. Goodnight is currently training for the Boston Marathon while directing another race in the upcoming fall. Goodnight is excited about the opportunities she’s received from Be The Match and Miracle Match Marathon.
“It’s unbelievable. I’ve also got to meet people I would’ve never met without this program,” Goodnight said.
Waco not only has gained awareness for Be The Match, but also, Baylor has become a part of the advocacy for the marrow donor program. Stephanie Jardot, the community engagement representative for Be The Match, is the liaison between the program and Baylor. Jardot believes that 2018 will be a year full of accomplishments for the program.
“We have several drives scheduled on campus for the spring semester … We want to get into classrooms and talk to more organizations to raise awareness for the registry,” Jardot said.
The marathon was the program’s biggest event for the year and jump-started the anticipated goals for both the Scott & White and Baylor programs.
The Be The Match program hosts meetings for those interested in donating and the program every other Thursday in Earle Hall. The next meeting is 5pm.m Thursday.