The Chosen Marathon series started in 2008 with the idea that training for a marathon would be easier if you were training for a purpose besides health or weight loss. Founder Jenni Lord based the Chosen Marathon series on the premise of “bringing orphans out of darkness” through fundraising and team work. Since the inaugural race in 2010, over $600,000 has been raised through this race series, and all of that money benefits parentless children. In addition to funding adoptions on a personal level, the Chosen Marathon series has also provided winter clothing to an entire orphan village in Ukraine, built new homes and schools in Burundi, Haiti, and Costa Rica, and touched orphans’ lives throughout the continent from the Middle East, South America and Africa. Their over-arching goal is that no child be forgotten.

Though their global impact is momentous, the Chosen Race Series is helping on an individual basis as well. Erika Sears is one individual whose life has been touched by participating in the Chosen Marathon. After having two biological children and witnessing a friend’s experience with international adoption, Erika was inspired to start on an international adoption journey of her own.

After completing the necessary paperwork and daunting home study process, Erika and her husband realized that choosing adoption was not going to be easy financially. Around the same time, Erika had also started her own fitness journey and had begun running for weight loss. This is when she first heard of the Chosen Marathon series. Realizing that not only was it the perfect motivation for her running goals, but also a great way to raise funds for the adoption expenses, Erika signed up.

By creating “Team Sears,” Erika’s friends, family, and neighbors were also able to show their support. Over three years, they were able to raise about $10,000 from both the race entries and an additional grant from the Chosen Marathon directors.

In 2012, the Sears family used some of the money earned from racing to travel to South Korea. There they were able to learn about the Korean culture and complete the adoption process and, most importantly, meet their son and take him home. Erika describes the experience as both “beautiful and awful” as she witnessed the ever-present heartbreak that exists in adoption.

After adopting two-year-old Yoseb, Erika ran the Chosen Marathon one last time, but this time was a little different. This time someone was waiting for her at the finish line, the little boy that had inspired this entire journey. During each mile of the race, Erika was able to fight through fatigue and pain because she had a reason to keep going. Joining her at the end of the race, Yoseb grabbed his mom and dad’s hands, and with his sisters cheering on the side lines, the Sears family crossed the finish line, finally complete.

For more information on the Chosen Race series, or to find a race near you, please visit //

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