Passion: Running, which allows him to be a part of a community of runners who raise funds for adoption.

Background: Derrick’s story is even more interesting than the major running accomplishments that he’s experienced, which include: qualifying for Boston on his first marathon attempt, finishing 5th in the Tuscazoar 100 miler, and recently winning the Canton Hall of Fame marathon. 

Derrick combines his love for running with the ability to support the organization “Pure Gift of God”, which intends to “Make Adoption Possible” through financial support of anticipating families. Derrick is a part of a community of runners that meet regularly to support each other, have fun, and raise money for this great cause. The races that Derrick runs can range anywhere from a 5K to 100+ mile race. 

Derrick is a unique athlete in the fact that he is able to be motivated to beat his PRs, and also enjoy a run at anyone’s pace and distance throughout the week to engage in community. Throughout this feature, you will feel Derrick’s passion for running, his desire to help provide loving homes for disadvantaged children, and his hope for expanding his running community.

“I really enjoy the community aspect of it, and I like the run... but far more often, it’s the feeling of discipline after the run. It’s like: This was hard, I worked for it, I accomplished it, I feel good about it. It’s kind of like a day’s work.”

“Also, if I am going to spend this amount of time in this activity, it needs to be able to glorify God or worship Him. I feel like while I’m running, it’s really easy to do that, you’re out in Creation, you’re feeling good, you’re happy that you are healthy, you’re thanking God for those things.”

“There’s a group of guys that have always met at the track in Berlin to run. Out of that group, Kendrick started running the Columbus Marathon every year. More and more of us started joining him down there. 

There was one year that a couple of our guys from Sugar Creek, I think it was Jesse and Wally, ran Columbus for the organization “Pure Gift of God.” After that, the rest of the group started to build that out and mesh with them by running for the cause.”

“The official slogan for Pure Gift of God is: ‘Adoption Made Possible.’ They do several things: they come alongside people and help them understand the need for adoption, they help people walk through the difficult process of application and paperwork, and then a big part of what they do is raising funds to give directly to families for adoption.”

“My pitch for Pure Gift of God is: it’s raising money and donating funds to a family who wants to invest the rest of their lives into parenting and caring for a child in the name of Christ. Parenting is a willing sacrifice of your time and ultimately every part of your life... and Pure Gift of God just helps complete a part of the initial financial requirement for families who want to make that sacrifice.

“One year, I think we had over 60 marathoners/half-marathoners down there with us at Columbus. 

It’s one thing to run a marathon and feel that accomplishment, it’s another thing to run the Columbus Marathon where there’s 15,000 people there and that feels pretty exciting, but then when you have a group of 60 people running for something that you care a lot about, I feel like that’s the pinnacle of knowing that your running is doing some kind of good… using it for more than just exercise.”

“How do we run for a cause like this? Basically, we sign up for a race and then raise funds on their behalf. It’s not necessary to win any prize from the race, it’s more about getting their name out and approaching friends to say ‘I’m running this race on behalf of Pure Gift of God, would you be interested in contributing?’ Through reaching out to people we know and asking if they’ll donate $50 here or there for various races... I believe that process has raised over $100,000 per year from the 60+ runners who do this with our runs.”

“The community of runners is a special community. People on the outside look in and think it’s funny that runners will chat it up after a competitive race, but I think it goes a lot deeper than that. As people get older, we put more and more attention inside to our own family. 

And as some people get older, they start to have less and less friends. But, I know a bunch of guys through running… and those are my buddies. I meet Jeremy right at this spot 4 days a week, I meet Jeff once a week, I meet anywhere from 15 to 20 guys in Berlin on Sunday mornings before church. Those guys have become close friends, and from my experiences, the friendships are a lot deeper than just running. Our group will do at least one trip together every year. We went to the Grand Canyon and did the 44 mile rim-to-rim-to-rim hike there.”

“We met a guy from Clearwater, FL about halfway through the Grand Canyon trek. His two friends were much faster and kind of left him behind. So, we brought him along with us. And as it got later and more difficult, our guys would drop back and push him on to make sure he made it up to the top. He was amazed that our group of 12 stuck together and finished with each other, when his friends had kind of left him behind. He said that without us, he would’ve missed his flight home.”

“I think the community continues to hold you accountable and motivate you. I don’t have the same aspirations as when I was younger, but I still have goals. I wanted to beat the PR of a buddy of mine in Florida who had run a 16:40 5K, and I worked and eventually got just under that time. And then another goal was to be able to do a sub-24 hour 100 miler, which I was able to do. I’m reasonably quick at the 5K and marathon distance, but those 100 milers have not been too good for me. So, that was a big deal for me to be reasonably competitive at that kind of run. Those were my time goals. 

For me at this point, it’s more about maintaining good health and hanging with my buddies, worshipping God through it. Running does help with your mindset, both with the endorphins and the joining of a new community.”

“Running is my thing and I love it, but Crossfit and other workouts can do the same thing. It’s about getting your heartrate up and working with other people. I believe God has wired us for being in community with other people.”

To learn more about the organization that Derrick supports in his passion of running, "Pure Gift of God," check out their instagram: @Puregiftofgod and their website: