Keep the Penny :: Over 330 Miles

Ryan Devlin, author of "Keep the Penny." (GantDaily File Photo)

I have a lot of unique friends from college with quite loveable quirks.  There’s Michelle, the free spirit, who decided to jump onto a moving railroad cart, but then turned herself into the police because she felt bad about breaking the law.  Then there’s Dan who’s the nicest kid you’ve ever met, unless if you beat him in a game in monopoly and then he wants to kill you.  We have all done ridiculous things at different times too.  My friend Luke dislocated his shoulder at a track meet while chasing after one of our teammates to tell her she needed to put on more sunscreen.  Who ever thought helping protect someone from UV rays would result in ending up in a stretcher and ambulance?  We’re not about to let Luke live that one down.  Brittany has given us many memories too, but I don’t think she’ll ever forget the night my friends and I kidnapped her on her walk back from the library.  I mean if someone put a pillowcase over your head and threw you into a car, I think would remember that for a long time too.

I have learned so much about life, love, and laughter from my friends, but even still after our college graduation they have remained an important part of my life.  Despite how many weeks or months we go without seeing each other, when we get together we pick right up from where we left off.  On our last get-together, which happened to be a weeklong vacation at TopSail, North Carolina, I found out my friends are still just as fun and sometimes crazy—especially Tim, Brian, and Jack.  We all ran cross country and track together in college, and none of us have stopped running since we graduated.  In fact, Tim, Brian, and Jack decided that they will run across the entire state of Pennsylvania this month. 

They’re starting their journey on the West Virginia/PA border on September 3rd, and their entire trip will last 11 days.  Their total mileage will be over 330 miles, which is equivalent to running eight marathons.  They are nuts, but are doing all of this to raise money for three great charities.  You can read more about their journey on their blog: 

I can’t wait to hear all of the interesting stories Tim, Brian, and Jack will have after they complete their trip.  They’ve talked about running across the state before, but I didn’t know this would turn into a reality so quickly.  I am so proud of my college friends.  Not only have they brought me incredible joy throughout the years, they have also inspired me to be a better person.  Running for ten days straight isn’t how I would chose to use my vacation time, but providing advocacy for their charities and helping others is what my friends have set out to do.  At Waynesburg College, we all learned quite a bit about service learning from being involved in several mission trips.  I can still remember one of my professors telling us that we have three ways to give back, through the giving of our time, talents, and treasures.  It’s so great to see that Tim, Brian, and Jack have found a unique way to use both their time and talents while raising money for those less fortunate.

I encourage you to get onto their blog and check out their expedition.  Despite blisters, bad weather, exhaustion, and other unexpected encounters, I have no doubt Tim, Brian, and Jack will reach the finish line with beat-up knees, but bigger hearts.  It was Noel Coward that summed up running perfectly when he said, “Running is the classical road to self-consciousness, self-awareness and self-reliance.  Independence is the outstanding characteristic of a runner.  He learns the harsh reality of his physical and spiritual limitations when he runs.  He learns that personal commitment, sacrifice and determination are his only means to betterment.  Runners get promoted only through self-conquest.”  You may not be a runner, but what have you recently pushed yourself to do?  What story can you one day proudly share with your grandkids?  Not everyone was born to be a runner, but your unique quirks, talents, money, or the giving of your time could change someone’s life forever.  Best of luck Tim, Brian, and Jack.

Ryan Devlin is a 25-year-old English teacher and cross country coach at Brockway Area High School.  If you ever ran eight marathons or want to contact Ryan become a fan of “Keep the Penny” on facebook.  Total reader savings thus far for your piggy bank, nine cents.

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