February 2, 2013
by Steve Isenberg
Throughout my nearly four decades as a physician I have witnessed the courage it takes for patients and their families to deal with illness. Almost ten years ago I started awarding my marathon medals to some of my friends and patients who are certainly running a much more difficult marathon than I had completed. It let me express my support and admiration of their courage, or mettle. I realized that I didn't have enough medals for all my courageous patients and I thought other distance athletes might also want to award their medals. So in 2005, with great help from many friends and volunteers, I founded Medals4Mettle (www.medals4mettle.org). Thanks to the incredible help of dedicated volunteers, medal donors and financial contributors, Medals4Mettle (M4M) has now awarded almost 25,000 medals to courageous children and adults throughout the world. M4M is poised to meet our vision of establishing these donated medals as an international currency of goodwill and support.
I have had the pleasure of running the Monumental Marathon almost every year. The course through Indy carries me by many memories of my life in my hometown. As I pushed toward the finish of the 2012 Monumental Marathon, I concentrated on who would receive my medal. I knew that they were struggling much more than I was in this race that I was healthy enough to complete. I chose to run this marathon, but I was certain that they did not choose to suffer from the illness that challenged their life.
Todd Connor from WRTV contacted me in December to inform me that I was chosen to receive the Jefferson Award on behalf of Medals4Mettle. He wanted to interview me and film me awarding a medal. M4M has awarded many medals at Riley over the past seven and half years and I knew immediately that I wanted to award my Monumental Marathon medal to a Riley Kid.
Reese Sly and her mother greeted us as we arrived in Reese's hospital room at Riley. Her smile was all I needed to be reminded of what an incredible experience it is to give a medal, complete with M4M's beautiful ribbon, to a courageous child. Reese had been in Riley for several weeks. I was bringing her a present and I told her how much I respected her mettle. I have grandchildren her age and I can only imagine how difficult it has been for Reese and her family. This, however, was a very good day. A bright and beautiful ribbon with a medal, lots of pictures and smiles and, most importantly, she was going home!
When I am training or struggling to finish the last miles of a distance event, I find great inspiration from these kids and others who are struggling much more than I can imagine. M4M looks forward to working with the Monumental Marathon. Medals4Mettle was founded in Indianapolis and we are very grateful for the tremendous support we have received from everyone in this great city. We have over 60 chapters in the United States and several foreign countries. M4M is a 501c3 charity, nearly 100% of all financial donations are used to purchase ribbons and we are an all-volunteer organization with no paid employees. So whether you are a distance runner or not, please visit our website to learn more about our partnership with Monumental Marathon or volunteering, donating medals or possibly awarding medals at on of our local events. It is an experience you will never forget.
Dr. Steve Isenberg
About the Jefferson Award:
The American Institute for Public Service was created in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft Jr. and Sam Beard. The public foundation established the Jefferson Awards, a Nobel Prize for community and public service. In 1977, the Jefferson Awards embarked on a media partnership with local newspapers and television stations to highlight community service in America.
The Jefferson Awards mission is to encourage and honor individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service. The Jefferson Awards are a well respected recognition system honoring individuals who perform community and public service.
Past National Winners include:
Marion Wright Edelman
Hon. Thurgood Marshall
Hon. Sandra Day O'Connor