I’m Running The NYC Marathon! (And Helping Fund Down Syndrome Research!)

Spoiler Alert – I’m running the 2016 NYC Marathon! Please take a few minutes to watch the short video below to find out why running this race could possibly help all people with Down syndrome, and how you can help me do something awesome! If you aren’t interested in reading the back story of why I’m running the NYC marathon and what LuMind Research Down Syndrome does, and would just like to make a donation, you may do some by clicking here. (Although I hope you will take time to read through this blog post. Thanks!)

Why Am I Running The 2016 NYC Marathon?

A little back story – In 2014 I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes and fatty liver disease as a result of not eating well (I really enjoyed drinking ice-cold Coca Cola’s from McDonalds and old fashioned donuts from Starbucks) and not exercising – not to mention I was overweight (I was over 200 pounds!). I started walking and running to add some activity to my life, and eventually signed up for a 5K, started a Nike Training program and finished the 5K.  I lost weight, felt better, enjoyed running the race with my wife, and felt a sense of accomplishment. (By the way, if you think you could never run a race please leave a comment below, I’d love to give you some tips and encouragement!)

2014 plano balloon fest 5k web

Running my first 5K with my awesome wife!

I’ve experienced a lot of benefits from running and since that 5K I’ve learned that signing up for a race helps me to stay consistent with my running, and a structured training plan helps me to stay focused. I recently ran a 10K and as I was nearning the end of my training I was curious how someone signed up to the run the NYC marathon. I also thought it would be a cool personal accomplishment to run a marathon – especially the NYC marathon since NYC is one of my favorite places in the world to visit. So I googled it. And I read the website. And I realized you had to qualify to enter the race. (That wasn’t going to happen.) Or you could enter the lottery. (The lottery was already over.) Or you could run as a part of a charity team and get a guaranteed entry!

chick fila 10k race dallas

This is me finishing my first 10K this past weekend!

So I started looking at the list of charities.

As I looked through the list of charities I came across LuMind Research Down Syndrome, an organization that helps raise funds for Down Syndrome research (more on LuMind RDS below) so I sent them an email asking about their organization and about running the race. Fast forward a few days and I was signed up to be a part of their running team and the 2016 NYC marathon!

2016 new york city marathon down syndrome awareness

This is really happening!

What Is LuMind Research Down Syndrome?

Of all of the various charity teams listed LuMind RDS stood out to me for 1. The fact that we have a son with Down Syndrome, and 2. Their mission and vision!

The mission of LuMind Research Down Syndrome Foundation is to stimulate biomedical research that will accelerate the development of treatments to significantly improve cognition, including memory, learning and speech, for individuals with Down syndrome so they:

• participate more successfully in school and employment,
• lead more active and independent lives, and
• avoid the early cognitive decline with aging and Alzheimer’s Disease.

VISION: Not a Cure, but Treatments to Improve Memory, Learning, Speech, and Ultimately Independence

As a parent of child with Down syndrome I really like that they say they aren’t trying to “cure” Down syndrome, rather help stimulate research that will help our kids lead active and independent lives and help avoid the early cognitive decline with aging and Alzheimer’s Disease! (This last part is something I’d especially like to see happen!!!)

LuMind RDS helps fund research studies at some great universities. Here are a few:

  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Stanford School of Medicine
  • Emory University

How You Can Help Me Help People With Down Syndrome

In addition to just running a marathon in November I hope to help people with Down syndrome by raising awareness (and funds) for LuMind (and ultimately Down syndrome research) that will help kids like our little boy, Noah. I’d love for you help me do this as well. Here’s a few ways you can!

  1. Pray – I’ve mentioned before that a mother’s womb is the most dangerous place in the world for a child with Down syndrome and no matter how much awareness and funds we raise it’s all futile unless we pray and ask the Lord to change the hearts of our country. That hearts would change and see that humans have value not because of anything they can (or can’t) do but simply because they are made in the image of God. Pray also for research studies (like the ones LuMind helps funds) and wisdom for the folks working to help kids like our son reach their full potential. Pray especially that we would see an end to both abortion and Alzheimer’s disease in our lifetime.
  2. Give – All of the research that is being done requires significant funds, and so I hope you will help me help this great organization by making a donation! When I signed up to be a part of the running team for LuMind I committed to raise 2,500 dollars. At the time of this blog post (only about a week after I signed up for the race!) we’ve already been able to raise over 3,400 dollars!!! I’m blown away by the generosity of our friends both in the “real world” and all of the ones we’ve made who follow our blog, Facebook, and Twitter account. Thank you so much! I would love to triple the goal I committed to, and I need your help. You can click here to make a donation, and please know any amount goes a long way! I hope you will consider making a donation that will go to help fund research studies that aim to make life even more awesome for people with Down syndrome!
  3. Share – At the top of this blog post you’ll find some social media share buttons. I hope you will click on some of them and share this blog post on your Facebook news feed, Twitter account, or email to friends. The more people we have that know about LuMind and will Pray, Donate, and Share the better!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to check out this great infographic that LuMind put together. This is my very first marathon and just the thought of being in a 26.2 mile race, let alone finishing it sounds crazy! I plan on posting a weekly blog post sharing my experience in training for a marathon and I hope it encourages some of you to run one as well (if you haven’t already.)

lumina down syndrome research running team

Have you ran a marathon before? If so please comment below and let me know how it was and if you have any training tips for me! I hope you’ll help me continue to increase awareness (and financial resources) to this great organization! Let’s do this! Oh and by the way, I’m going to work on putting together a meet up the weekend of the race for anyone who wants to come – so if you’d like to come to NYC and cheer me on (and meet Noah and the rest of the family) let me know. And if you’d like to stay connected as I share our story please enter your email in the box below. Thanks!

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About Rick Smith

Hi, I'm Noah's Dad and I'm passionate about giving the world a window into our life as we raise our son who was born with Down syndrome. I also enjoy connecting with other families, so let's stay connected.


  1. Yay, way to go! I come from a family of runners, but have never run a marathon (have been thinking for quite a long time about a half). I remember, years ago, when I started to run, I couldn’t even run around the block. I decided the next day I would run to the next lamp post as it wasn’t that much farther. I did that until I could run the whole way around the block and to this day, when I go for runs, I count the lamp posts! My advice to you for running a marathon is to join a marathon clinic as they will pace your training accordingly to avoid injuries and it’s also a great way to meet other runners! Lots of people (often new runners) think they can do the training on their own, but usually end up getting injured before the race. Good luck and I look forward to your updates!!

  2. I am so stoked for you. I have only run 10ks and 1 half marathon. Each time I ran I learned to enjoy the beauty around me…the shared perseverance in the other runners and the constant prayer dialog in my head….I don’t listen to music, instead I say hi to fellow runners…if I’m by myself I say hi to trees, grass, the beauty that God surrounds us with….it all deserve’s a hello don’t you think? And nothing else but running gets you to appreciate a simple hello!
    Can’t wait to hear all about your journey! AWESOME!

  3. More power to you… Super Dad and Mom. Me thinks I like the cut of your jib sir!

  4. Hi Rick, I just came across your FB page and website as I was doing a bit of research to find dads like me – have a child with T21/DS and into running. I have a son with DS who is almost 3 and I started running only about a year ago. I couldn’t run 1K then but now I regularly run 10K and have done a half marathon with 2 more planned soon. I’m planning on a full marathon in the future. I thought towards the end of this year but likely hold off until towards middle of next year. Anyway, all the best with the running and I’ll be following you on FB.

  5. Hi Rick, Katelynns grandma here from #KatelynnsKrew… would love to cheer you on and have Noah and Katelynn finally meet. Please post where and when are you having the meet up or email me at brunycruzado@aol.com.

    Looking forward to finally have these 2 awesome kids meet and lets not forget Jaxten.

  6. Hi Rick, Katelynns grandma here from #KatelynnsKrew… would love to cheer you on and have Noah and Katelynn finally meet. Please post where and when are you having the meet up or email me at brunycruzado@aol.com.

    Looking forward to finally have these 2 awesome kids meet and lets not forget Jaxten

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