Jon Lin: 10 Years and Counting

Jon Lin“It all started at Harold’s Chicken,” says Jon Lin. He was a high school teacher at the time, dealing with overwhelming stress, eating out a lot and not feeling great physically. But, he says, “As I was walking out with my half piece dark, I saw a flyer advertising the marathon and thought, yeah I could run a marathon.”

So he joined Team World Vision and started training for the Chicago Marathon in 2007, having never run more than 3 miles in his life. And when he crossed the finish line, he knew that he wasn’t done. 

Since then, Jon has boldly, yet humbly, continued to up his challenge level. He’s taken on many more marathons including NYC, and ventured into triathlon at the Steelhead Half Ironman and Ironman Wisconsin. And he’s done it all in the Team World Vision orange.

So what keeps him coming back year after year? 

Well, two main things: 

First, “This has been a place of healing for me,” Jon said. Having grown up with a high value placed on success and competition, Jon says about his journey on Team World Vision: “I’m not trying to meet someone else’s standard, and everything I have done has been celebrated. It doesn’t matter if you win your age group or win the race or if you’re the last person crossing the finish line. It’s been so encouraging to celebrate growth and progress. It’s been a place where I don’t feel judgement or comparison.” 

Second, Jon said, “I felt like if I was going to keep doing this there had to be a reason.” So he did his research early on and learned that World Vision was doing great work in the field that he was excited to support. “The problem of clean water is a solvable problem, and coming from an engineering background, it irks me to no end that there are things that can be solved that are not being solved.” So with each new physical challenge, Jon has pushed his introverted self through the fear of fundraising and has been encouraged (and sometimes surprised) by the way his supporters have repeatedly come alongside him to work toward the end of the clean water crisis.

Jon, we’re so thankful for your quiet consistency over the last 10 years and counting. You have taken risks, stepped through fear, persisted despite injury, showed up for your teammates, and worked faithfully on behalf of children and communities in need of clean water. We’re grateful for you and who you are in this Team World Vision family, no matter where you live!

Russ Funk: Reshuffling his cards

Russ FunkRuss Funk was scheduled to have knee replacement surgery in September of 2010. It was a hard reality to face having been an athlete in high school and college. But after 25 years of arthritis developing in his knees, he couldn’t escape it. His knees were in constant pain.

So it came as a shock when Russ announced to his family that he would be running a half marathon with Team World Vision that year. (You might already know that you can’t run on knee replacements.)

Russ had rescheduled his knee surgery in order to run the race instead. He couldn’t sit without aching and moaning, he hadn’t run a step in 25 years, and the race was 12 weeks away. Never mind that just a month earlier when asked how many races he had run, he had humbly replied, “None. Running is not in the cards for me.

But when he had asked his doctor about running the half marathon, the doctor told him, “Your knees are already shot, so if you can stand the pain, you might as well completely break them.” So Russ decided to reshuffle his cards.

He indeed ran that half marathon in 2010, and since then has completed 20 half marathons, 2 full marathons, and 7 triathlons (including a Half Ironman) on behalf of kids in Africa. He’s been a team captain in Phoenix, encouraged team members across their finish lines, and traveled to Africa with his wife, Pam, to meet their sponsored child in Kenya.

And on March 19, 2016, Russ ran the World Vision Global 6K for Water in his hometown of Phoenix. After 5 years of defying the odds, Russ celebrated his last running event with 8,000 of his closest friends across the country. Just 10 days later, Russ finally had that knee replacement. 

But that won’t stop him from doing whatever he can to help provide clean water to communities in Africa. At the Global 6K, Russ talked about taking on the Legacy challenge this year and what events he could do to help him raise $10,000. He’s already signed up for a triathlon relay with his sons (he’ll do the swimming and biking portions), and is looking into cycling events for once he has recovered from surgery.  

Russ, for five years you’ve endured relentless pain for the sake of others. You’ve literally broken your knees to care for children around the world. You’ve run for water, hope, and life. You are an inspiration to all who know you and we’re so thankful to have you on the team. Here’s to many more races!

Aimee Miller Parra: Faithful Sojourner

Aimee Miller ParraAimee happened to be visiting Park Community Church with her friend on the day that Team World Vision showed up to invite people to run the Chicago Marathon. She wasn’t a church-goer and she wasn’t a runner. But she was moved to join the team and run for kids who needed clean water.

From there, her life changed pretty drastically.

We think you should just go ahead and watch her story.