On March 26, 2017 students, faculty and staff, as well as alumni from Gannon University, John Carroll University, Notre Dame College and University of Michigan gathered in Grosse Isle, Michigan for the annual Rock CF Race with the Living Person group. Started by Korean Catholic Priest – Fr. H. Paul Kim – over ten years ago, the Living Person offers a 5K run/walk, half marathon relay, or a half marathon each year in support of Cystic Fibrosis Research. Unlike other events of its kind, the Living Person is not a competition, but rather an opportunity for participants to gather as a community, and connect both physically and spiritually at this exciting event.
This year, Gannon University was represented by twelve undergraduate students, three graduate students, seven faculty and staff members and three alumni who travelled alongside one-hundred participants from other universities to St. Thomas Lutheran Church, where lodging was offered just two minutes from the starting line. While staying at the Church, attendees were invited to write a reflection on their lives, faith, and the challenges of running as well as to attend a prayer service where they received a race number and t-shirt. Dr. James E. Menkhaus – Assistant Professor in Gannon’s Theology Department – states that the title “Living Person” draws on a quote from St. Irenaeus, which teaches us that one way to glorify God is to take care of our bodies, to be fit, and to challenge ourselves beyond our perceived limitations.
“The name of the race comes from a quote by St. Irenaeus, which states that ‘The Glory of God is the living man, fully alive’” Menkhaus said. “The Living Person group believes that challenging ourselves in mind, body and spirit can make us more fully alive and more of who God calls us to be.”
After founding this movement over ten years ago, Fr. H. Paul Kim later returned to Korea to continue his ministry. The Living Person group has since grown to include over one-hundred men and women who are inspired and dedicated to improving their over all quality of life. Dr. Menkhaus, who arrived at Gannon in 2013, states that he has personally experienced the growth in populari ty of this program.
“When I arrived at Gannon in 2013, two students joined me for the race. This number eventually became eight, then twenty, and now a group of twenty-five students joins me every year,” Menkhaus said. “This year, many of the people in the Living Persons group ran their first race, or first half marathon, demonstrating the power of team work, community and faith when trying to overcome obstacles and challenges.”
Among the students from Gannon University who participated in the Living Persons run were Sophomore Daniela Alban and Senior Katie Ellsworth, who both weighed in on the impact of this event.
“Throughout all of my training I had to ask myself why I was doing a half marathon to being with. When the day came, I realized that being a living person means something beyond myself, it means welcoming a community of people you didn’t even know you were a part of, and racing alongside them while working for the strength of each other” Alban said.
“My time racing felt very alive, as I usually do races alone. I had such a strong sense of community as I saw the living person shirts run by, I felt so committed to this group of people that I had the pleasure to run with” Ellsworth said.
For more information on the Living Person, or to sign up to participate in future events, click here or contact Dr. James E. Menkhaus at email@example.com.
-contributed by David Russo