With the Chicago Marathon just weeks away, runners have been ramping up their mileage.
Among them, a woman, running with a special purpose.
The last few weeks of training to run 26 miles is rough with long runs and recently, in some pretty hot weather. For Linda Crump, this final stretch is personal as a young woman who once wanted nothing more than to run away.
“I was a young mom,” Crump said. “Everyone’s looking down on you because you’re a teenager with a baby. You’re being shunned. And you feel like you’re not good enough. How are you going to reach your goals with a baby being a single and a minority too?”
Christa march founded the non-profit, Teen Mother Choices 35 years ago and Crump was one of the young moms they took under their wing.
“Linda is one of these people that a soon as you meet her, you know there’s something really special about her,” March said.
Those first few years, TMC provided free childcare so Crump could return to school, life skill workshops and a mentor she could lean on.
“Just over 1700 moms have been through this teen mom program and the cool thing is of the 1700 who’ve gone through this program, 98 percent are completely off government assistance,” March said.
With the help of TMC, Crump not only graduated high school, but went on to college, a successful career and a point where she realized she was no longer running away, but moving forward.
“I think what I gained the most from TMC was the unconditional love and support, the encouragement,” she said.
So in 2015, she ran the Chicago Marathon to raise money for those who got her on the right path.
“She ran her fist marathon in 2015 for Teen Mother Choices and swore she’d never do it again. But here we are … and she’s chosen to do it again,” March said.
When the miles start to take a toll and the blisters kick in, Crump remembers the women that carried her decades earlier so she and her now grown daughter could be where they are today.
“To know there’s other women out there right now that need the extra hope and encouragement. I want to be able to help impact with that support and unconditional love,” she said. “And if that means running 26 miles, I’ll do it. It’s a no brainer for me.”
She is paying it forward, with each mile