Running (and occasionally walking) 74 miles in one day allows a man plenty of time to think.
Matt Kirby, who serves as the Jackson County Early College Liaison, spent much of his time on the Georgia Death Race considering the bigger picture of why he was pushing his body to the brink of exhaustion on March 31.
Anytime his legs started aching or his lungs began to burn or his throat got parched, Kirby would scroll through his mind and see the faces of the Southwestern Community College students who may benefit from his efforts.
Along the way, he trimmed three hours off his time from the year before. Out of more than 280 competitors who started the race, Kirby was among the 130 who finished.
“If I had to run 74 miles by myself with no support, no aid station, nobody handing me water or encouragement, it would be miserable, and I would probably fail,” Kirby said. “The fact that there are all these people out there who don’t even really know you, but you’re connected by this trail, and they’re rooting for you, cheering you on and supporting you in all these different ways – it’s a metaphor for how life is when thing get hard.”
That’s also an accurate metaphor for what Kirby was doing on that trail – and what he does every day in supporting JCEC students at Southwestern Community College.
Kirby raised $2,100 in donations through his participation in the Georgia Death Race, and he gave every penny to the SCC Foundation’s Student Emergency Fund. The fund assists students with crisis-type emergencies that might otherwise prevent them from continuing toward their college degrees.
“Sometimes when you’re going through a dark season in college, you need someone to step in and let you know there’s hope – and to encourage you to just keep going,” Kirby said. “Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you’ll eventually make it to the finish line.”
Last year, the Student Emergency Fund provided financial assistance to 18 students. Thanks to Kirby’s efforts, the SCC Foundation stands ready to help even more this year.
“It takes a very rare type of individual to be willing to endure a physical challenge like this,” said Dr. Don Tomas, President of SCC. “After working with our students over the years, Matt knows how just the smallest amount of encouragement or financial assistance can make all the difference in a student’s life. We are so proud of him for not only crossing the finish line in the Georgia Death Race but also for doing it on behalf of our students. We’re also extremely grateful to everyone who supported Matt through their donations to our Student Emergency Fund.”
If you’d like to contribute to the Student Emergency Fund at SCC, visit www.southwesterncc.edu and click on “Give Now” across the top.