Friday, January 24, 2020

A Lifelong Journey -- Making a Difference One Milepost at a Time

During my life, I've made concentrated and deliberate efforts to try and be an example to young people. Most of those young people have seen me as I am seen in this photo from 2008 (when I was on my 620-mile, 20-day solo run across Montana). The thumbs up... the shades... the running gear and cap... it was my 'image' as I endeavored to encourage and inspire children toward a healthier lifestyle. I gave presentations at countless schools, hoping kids would see that adventure is right outside your door and that if you take care of your body it will take you anywhere.

Along that decades-long journey, I endured endless lonely mileposts, striding along day after day... week after week... month after month... and year after year. The message was always the same and the conviction with which I placed each step never lessened. I feel good about what I was able to accomplish in my running career, and although I've been retired from running for a few years I still appreciate the very kind and thoughtful words that were written to me from people around the world. Today, I want to share a few of those with you from my 2008 solo run across Montana.
  • "I feel like today we are finding, more and more, that people and their accomplishments aren’t quite what they seem. And I must admit that when I took my 3-year-old daughter to watch and meet you on a remote section of Highway 12... I didn’t quite know what to expect. Watching you run directly into a pounding wind, over miles of tough, hilly road, what I found was an authentic inspiration. Someone that I feel fortunate to have met and that my daughter can truly look up to."
  • "Let it be known that I truly admire what you are doing with them legs of yours!"
  • "You are a motivating force and an inspiration to far more than the school children who took part in Pace Trek."
  • "You never fail to amaze me. You are a real inspiration to young and old alike."
  • "I am awed by what you accomplish. I am glad that there are people in the world that are doing good for others the way you are. You are an inspiration and a positive force in the world."
  • "It has been a healthy realistic experience for all of us to follow your disciplined trek. Thanks for the novel experience."
  • "Thank you for this fantastic opportunity. Many of our kids were able to accomplish things that they never thought possible. We were able to set smaller goals along the way and there were numerous triumphs on our own trek."
  • "Thanks for getting us off our seats and moving!"
  • "Congratulations Paul! What you are doing is phenomenal and a really great inspiration for the kids."
  • "Your journey is such a great inspiration. Thank you for taking the time to to incorporate such an interesting and multi-grade curriculum."
  • "This was so wonderful I can't express it in words. This was so motivational to our classes and parents."
  • "You've made it very easy for teachers and students to plug in and feel a part of your journey."
  • "Congratulations to you Paul for an excellent job in your Trek. This was exciting for my students, myself and the school. Thanks again for all your hard work. What a great experience we all had."
  • "Thanks for a successful fitness project! We loved to do it!"
  • "We made it and the teachers wore your Pace Trek t-shirts with pride!!!! The kids were so excited!"
  • "Congrats on finishing your trek! The message you have sent to thousands of kids will continue on!"
  • "As the PE teacher it was really great to see classroom teachers outside and encouraging their students to move during class time. It was a positive experience for the students and teachers. As the Kindergarten teacher said, "I really like this because it gives the kids a purpose for their running.""
  • "Thank you for the challenge. The kids in our elementary are always talking about it and most of them look forward to our daily mile."
  • "All the physical education teachers here would like to thank you for letting us participate in this magnificent event. Paul, we want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to help spread the word about keeping our kids, and all the children around the world, healthy by staying active. Be sure to include us in next year's PACE trek activities."
  • "This morning we had our Marines, Sailors, and Civilians come out and run the final mile with us. It was so touching to see fathers and sons walking or running hand in hand and moms inspiring and running beside their children. We had one of our Commanding Officers participate, various youth sports coaches, parents representing our military base fitness team, and so many others. The parents were "VERY IMPRESSED" with our efforts pushing for healthier children. I spoke about you and what you have done, are doing, and why you do what you do. It has inspired us here on Marine Corp Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. This was a way for you to give back to those kids of the military that have had to have parents gone many times in harms way. They appreciate what you chose to do. We have also enjoyed watching your video clips and reading your blogs."
  • "It is about the "journey" and traveling with you has been a great adventure for our students. You truly have shown our students what dedication is about."
  • "My kids are reaching new running goals they never before thought possible!"
  • "You are sending such a great message to our kids. Thank you for your time, effort, pain, and commitment to Promoting Active Children Everywhere!"
Words as these (and I have enough to fill a book) will always mean so very much to me. I am humbled by such words and grateful that God gave me the vision and strength to step out and make a difference through a unique program. I will forever have the memories of pacing along with students from around the world as we reached for a common goal. I hope that when they think of me they think... "Gotta Run!"

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso