June 24, 2021
There’s a picture hanging in Sheri Shimmel’s kitchen. She says it might be her favorite picture in the whole world. She had it printed on a canvas so she could see it every day. And every day, she gets reminded of what she has done, and why.
In the picture is a moment. Sheri has just finished the 2019 One in Five Marathon Relay. You can’t see her face, but if you could you would have seen it all – the sweat, the exhaustion, the jubilation. Instead, you see the face of Sheri’s daughter, who’s volunteering at the race and handing out water bottles at the finish. She’s full of emotion, eyes squeezed shut as she envelopes Sheri in a tight hug.
Years before, Sheri wouldn’t have expected either of them would be there, part of this moment. Back then, Sheri was simply a worried mom. She was shuffling in and out of appointments, seeking a diagnosis for her daughter, who was facing severe mental illness. It was shortly after her daughter’s hospitalization and eventual diagnosis that Sheri learned about a One in Five walk for Hope Network. They decided to do the walk together as a family. When they did, they saw runners. “We should do that,” her daughter said.
“I was a smoker, not very ‘in shape,’ not into fitness at all,” Sheri said. “But somehow the idea stuck with me. I thought, I’ll do this.”
Spurred by her daughter, she set out to get moving and show what was possible. She got support from the running group Sole Sisters, quit smoking, and stuck to a training schedule. When an ankle injury and surgery set her back, she realized how much running had begun to mean to her.
“I was running for my daughter, but I also have anxiety really bad,” Sheri said. “When I couldn’t run, I realized how much I needed it for me too. How much it was helping me. And I can’t have a breakdown, I have to be there for her. I saw how important it was for me then.”
Sheri started to work through and open up more about her own mental health challenges. At the end of 2018, she got cleared to run again and slowly built her strength back up – all the way up to being able to run in the 2019 One in Five Marathon Relay. Which she did – right to the finish line, where her daughter was waiting, ready to wrap her up in that picture-perfect hug.
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