Tim Timmons | Crawfordsville, IN

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May 6, 2021

9/6/2013 10:20:00 AM
These medals are for true mettle
Two Cents, by Tim Timmons

There are few things more grueling or challenging than running marathons. Over the span of more than 26 miles, the human body is pushed to the brink, and sometimes beyond, exhaustion. There is pain, despair, anguish and a desire to give up that is almost beyond description.

None of it compares to someone fighting an insidious disease for their life.

Dr. Steven Isenberg gets that on a level most people can't understand. First, he's run marathons and understands the demands such endeavors place on a person. As a doctor, he's seen life as well as death up close; in ways most of us don't understand.

It was during one such moment about eight years ago that a movement began.

"I was making rounds on the day after I finished the Chicago Marathon," Isenberg said. "I had a friend who had been in and out of the hospital and I saw he had been readmitted. I stopped in just to visit. The room was dark. I talked with him for a few minutes and had that medal that was still in my pocket from the day before. I gave it to him and told him 'you're going through a much more difficult thing than I did.' He was the one who was really running the race."

It was the defining and first moment that the concept of Medals4Mettle was born. Isenberg began collecting medals from those athletes taking part in marathons, mini-marathons and triathlons and giving them out to young and old facing life-threatening illnesses.

"It just gives them a lift," Isenberg, who lives in Geist, said. "Giving the medal to patients who are having such a hard time is good for them. And you know what's ironic? When you really look at some of the people cheering you on (during marathons and similar competitions), some are in wheelchairs. They're cheering you on. It's really kind of strange."

What started with two people and one medal has grown almost exponentially. The organization has grown beyond the borders of the United States. M4M has 65 chapters that touch Japan, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and beyond. No matter, Isenberg said there is still a need.

"We're always looking for volunteers," he explained.

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