“Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.” 1 Peter 3:15
On August 23, 2019, we lost an incredible woman when Silvia Ruegger lost her battle to cancer. Like many, I was inspired by her Canadian marathon record of 28 years that she set when winning the 1985 Houston Marathon, and her 8th place finish in 1984 in Los Angeles, which was the first women’s marathon at the Olympic Games.
But what I admired most about her was how she used her accolades as a platform to serve others, something I learned when hearing her story for the first time several years ago. I was able to meet and chat with her afterwards, enjoying the conversation as we discovered our commonalities of being from small towns, attending the University of Guelph, and sharing our Christian faith. I knew that if I succeeded like her, I would want to also give back and put others first.
My most meaningful interaction with Silvia was a few years later, in 2013 when I wanted to break her record but did so after Lanni Marchant. On route to the awards ceremony when I told her I was disappointed, Silvia comforted me with the words, “It takes more grace than I can tell to play the second fiddle well.” I asked her to repeat it because I knew it would be a defining moment in my life. And it was. Choosing to celebrate being second fastest Canadian became a key message at my public speaking engagements, particularly at schools. It kept me grounded and humbled. It allowed me to keep working and encouraging others that they can be their best even if it’s not the best.
Cancer is a terrible disease to which I lost both parents when they were around the same age as Silvia. Far too soon.
Thank you for inspiring Canadians.
Thank you for refining me.
Thank you for fighting with an unwavering faith.
Thank you for your incredible grace and dignity.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8
You have finished your race and received the ultimate prize, something far better than any earthly gain.