When asked what people should know about her, Marybeth Stucker said, “I tend to talk obsessively about the things I am passionate about … entrepreneurship, running, Unbound … and really good food!”
Marybeth learned of Unbound in 2006 when a priest visited her hometown parish in Cincinnati to talk about the organization’s work with children and elders. The priest’s message resonated with Marybeth, prompting her into action.
“Even though I was only 16 at the time, I really wanted to help a young girl in need,” Marybeth said. “I used my earnings from my part-time job at a bakery to pay my monthly sponsorship.”
She decided Miriam, a 7-year-old from Bolivia, was the person she wanted to help. Now 25, Marybeth continues to sponsor Miriam and even took the opportunity to visit her and her mother twice through Unbound Awareness Trips.
More recently, Marybeth has been able to combine her love of Unbound with one of her other passions: running.
In 2014, Unbound introduced Trailblazers, a new way to raise funds and spread the word about Unbound by participating in athletic events. Participants are asked to fundraise, with donations going toward Education, which helps deserving students stay in school, or another fund of their choice. They also receive an Unbound Trailblazers shirt to wear for athletic events.
As a runner, Marybeth was eager to take part. She decided to sign up for the Akron Marathon as an Unbound Trailblazer and set her fundraising goal at $500.
Her strategy? To ask for $26 donations, $1 for every mile of the race.
To prepare for the marathon, Marybeth joined a running group organized by a running store in her area. Working with a group helped Marybeth keep to her training plan. Training for the race also gave her the perfect opportunity to tell others about Unbound.
“When someone would ask me why I would be so crazy to run 26.2 miles, I would enthusiastically tell them about Unbound,” she said “I continue to wear my Trailblazer tee when I run around town or go to other races. I love spreading the word about Unbound and the amazing work that we do!”
Marybeth’s training paid off. When she ran the Akron Marathon in late September, she finished in just under five hours. And by sharing her goal and enthusiasm for Unbound with her family, friends and anyone else who asked her about it, Marybeth didn’t just meet her fundraising goal — she beat it. By the time she ran her first marathon as a Trailblazer, she had raised $761.
Being an Unbound Trailblazer helped motivate Marybeth to not give up on her training, no matter how difficult it got. But perhaps the biggest motivation she had for sticking with her training came from Miriam.
“During my long runs, when I felt tired, I would think about my sponsored friend, Miriam,” Marybeth shared. “She has asthma and struggles to breathe in the high altitude of Bolivia when she runs. Yet she loves to play soccer and runs anyway. I knew that if she could overcome her challenges with such joy, I could certainly run a marathon!”
Visit unbound.org/trailblazers to learn more about becoming a Trailblazer.