ENTERPRISE — Running marathons has become an annual tradition for Emily Sheahan.
It also has become a way to help those in need half way around the world.
Sheahan, an Enterprise resident who is also a family physician with Wallowa Memorial Medical Clinic, recently took part in her seventh Boston Marathon — and 11th overall — when she ran the 26.2-mile event on Oct. 11.
The race is traditionally held in April, but last year was run virtually — Sheahan ran the mileage locally — due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year was pushed back to October due to the lingering coronavirus.
Sheahan ran the marathon in a time of 3 hours, 38 minutes, 6 seconds, though the cause — why she ran in the first place a decade ago — matters more.
“I did my first marathon in 2011, and what is interesting is that year my sister, she lives in Colorado, and was on a run group that raised funds for clean water with World Vision,” Sheahan said. “She invited me to run a marathon in Colorado. I ran for World Vision to raise funds. Since then, I (have run) a marathon every year for World Vision.”
Following one of those marathons, run in Zimbabwe in 2012, she and 10 others who ran to support World Vision got to see their work first hand.
It solidified for Sheahan the need to support the group.
“They took us to villages in Zambia where we were able to witness what World Vision is doing in those villages,” she said. “They partner, they help teach them hygiene … (and how to) garden and grow crops.”
World Vision also helps give access to water, she said.
“It’s better sanitation to keep them healthier. They also have small loans so they can start small businesses,” she said. “They try to choose villages where, if they put a well in, it would support multiple villages. Once they get a well in, they have a clean water source.
“Having that clean water source is just life changing for the villages. It was cool to go over and see how World Vision is working (in) those villages. … After that trip, I decided I was going to run a marathon a year to raise funds for clean water. It was amazing what it did for those villages.”
Through the years, various churches in the county have helped support the charity through Sheahan running in the marathon, especially her home congregation at Enterprise Christian Church. To date, she said, about $30,000 has gone to the organization, including $7,900 this year.
Support for the organization has come in various ways, including sponsoring a single child or contributing funding to give clean water to a person half a world away.
This year, it was a donation of $50 to support water for one person that was the requested donation.
“For $50, it allows one person to get clean water,” she said. “Each of those amounts leads to clean water for at least one person. This year, it was 100 people. I just asked people to give money to World Vision, and then I sent the money into World Vision, they get it to Africa where they are putting in wells.”
Sheahan has ample experience running marathons, and knows how to maintain herself during the grueling 26 miles.
But with the Boston Marathon this fall run in October — at the end of summer and warmer than in early April — she put in one additional request of those supporting her in the race.
“I asked the congregation at Enterprise Christian Church to have people sign up to pray for me for each mile of the marathon,” she said. “They prayed for me while I ran, which was amazing because I actually felt stronger than any other Boston Marathon. The heat didn’t affect me, and it had to be the power of prayer.”
Sheahan intends to continue running — and supporting the charity — as long as she can.
“I am hoping to. I figure as long as I can run and continue to marathons I want to keep going and keep raising funds for World Vision,” she said. “It helps when there is something more than just yourself you are running for.”
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