Mike Donley: What if you did?

Mike DonleyMike is an actor, a musician, a playwright, and all around creative type. Athletics was never his thing.

So when someone at Mike’s church invited him to run on Team World Vision, he laughed in her face. “I’m 51, a cancer survivor, I’m so busy, and running a marathon could not be farther from my bucket list,” Mike told her. “I’ll keep giving, but running is ridiculous.”

She pushed. “What if there is a chance that when you run, the money you raise could be much more than if you just gave?” Irritated at her challenge, Mike grabbed the flyer and walked away. But two days later, he was woken up with the phrase, “What if you did?” (That NEVER happens to him, by the way, ever.)

Now let’s back up for a second. When Mike was 24 and newly married, he was diagnosed with cancer that led to lots of chemo and surgeries. At one point, a doctor mistakenly told Mike that he would only have a few years to live. “You make a decision to do all you can to survive,” he said, “You learn how to not give up and to rely on the prayers of others when you don’t have the strength of your own.” In a word, he learned resilience.

So as Mike considered that question—What if you did?—he summoned that resilience and decided to choose life again. But this time, he was choosing life for others.

By the end of the week, he was signed up for the marathon. And when people asked why, “I told them 100% of the pie was about clean water.”

“But as I started training,” Mike said, “I realized I liked how my body felt, that I liked training with a group of people I would have never met, that there was spiritual growth happening as I suffered through the training plan. There was this whole pie I had never even considered before. I was getting two pies for the price of one.”

As Mike told his non-runner story and shared his heart for the cause, people started to give. In the end, he raised almost $15,000 and provided clean water for nearly 300 people. “It was unbelievable,” he said.

“God is at the center of it all giving me the chance to do new things and I’m very thankful to use my body at this stage in my life.” It’s why Mike is currently signed up for his second Twin Cities Marathon aiming to raise another $15,000.

Mike, thank you for being willing to find out the answer to the question, “What if you did?” Water and life for hundreds of children, that’s what.   

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