Running On Faith
Lynn and Jamie’s love story began when they met at a party in Oak Forest and fell in love during an Uno game. Jamie was a postman and Lynn was going to college. They enjoyed spending time together and after just two months of dating, they were engaged. But then, five months before their wedding date, tragedy struck. Lynn and her brother were on the way to pick up Jamie to attend a White Sox baseball game when they were involved in a terrible car crash. Lynn was badly hurt with a devastating brainstem injury that left her cognitively impaired, unable to walk, and not expected to live. But the Lord had a purpose in Jamie and Lynn’s lives.
Seventeen days later Lynn woke up from her coma, and seven months later, she began to speak and communicate. Jamie believed that Lynn was a gift from God and was there to help her throughout. Lynn began to aggressively work on her therapy, proving to the doctors she could walk again. Seven years later, her dream of walking down the aisle came true and she was able to marry Jamie.
Jamie, who had been an avid runner for many years, hated the fact that Lynn had to wait at the finish line. He wanted to spend every minute with her. They came up with a solution to run together. And so their journey began with running 5Ks, 10Ks, and even marathons. The first training run was around Yankee Woods in Oak Forest, Illinois, and the 3.25-mile course took them over an hour to complete. As time went on, they got a lot faster. Presently participating in many 5Ks and 10Ks, Jamie and Lynn regularly win in their pace group.
Their first race together was the Heart and Soul 10K in Olympia Fields, Illinois, in 1991. They started with a hospital wheelchair but they eventually were blessed with a racing chair. Miracles occurred in their personal lives as well. Lynn was able to conceive, and in 2000 Annalyn was born. Annalyn took an early interest in running and now races alongside of her family. At the age of 45, Jamie wanted to run one more race, and his dream was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. He worked hard and was able to qualify by running the Toronto Marathon in 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Again, Jamie faced adversity with tendonitis, but after determination, prayer, and help from a fantastic physical therapist, Jerry Davis, Jamie was able to run the Boston Marathon in 2008. He and Lynn showed through Christ that Jamie could finish the race strong, even with a filming crew watching him during the entire race of 3:29 hours.
Jamie and his family have had a lot of opportunities to be a light and witness for their community. He and his family have been featured in many articles for local and famous newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and even the National Enquirer. They have also done interviews for local Chicago television stations. They have a special on Discovery Health Channel entitled “Marathon Love” that charts their running journey. The couple also has been recognized by Runners World as “Heroes of Running” and been featured on the “Oprah Show” and most recently on “Where Are They Now” on the OWN network. Additionally, they have been able to speak openly about their faith in running expos and other events.
Marathon Love Trailer
Casual conversations with others in their normal everyday lives have led to some witness opportunities wherever they go. They are a light and example, and doors open up for them in both races and in ordinary activities in the neighborhood. They have embodied the gospel's call: "however, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”**
In the last year their 13-year-old-daughter, Annalyn, has been able to improve her time and enjoys racing with her family and relatives. Their daughter is a focused individual with straight As and on May 5th finished her first half marathon.
Their other unique race occurred last summer. It was called the Rangar Relay, and they ran all night long. It is where a group of runners run over 200 miles in a relay over a span of two very long days. Analynn was the first runner and youngest in the race of all the participants that year participating in Ranger. And her parents were the last so that they could hand the baton to each other.
Jamie also feels strongly about the importance of regular church attendance. Often, he is only able to race on Sundays due to his job in the post office, however he makes it a point to make church services, even when he has a race. He frequently will run to and from church, participates in worship team with his wife, is involved in music ministry, and plays with his wife and daughter. The Parks firmly believe that "with God all things are possible.“***
* Phillipians 4:13 New International Version
** Acts 20:24 New International Version
*** Matthew 19:6 New International Version