ariana_thankyou_2On January 19, 2014 Ariana Barnick crossed the finish line accomplishing her goal of completing the PF Changs Rock’n’Roll Marathon in Phoenix, AZ in 4:12:49. Behind the scenes Ariana accomplished even more.

It all started in 5th grade when teacher, Mrs. Stoller, assigned her class the task of writing a speech for the annual Modern Woodsmen of America speech competition. Choosing a fitting person for the topic “Someone You Look Up To”, was an easy task. Ariana often listened to her dad read stories about a Priest named Father Jack who was helping the poor in a far-away place in Peru.  Ariana knew this was a good subject. She dug deep, did her research, wrote the speech and yes, won first place in the competition.

While young Ariana researched the mission, she connected with the faces of children halfway around the globe, children just like her—5th graders. But what stayed with her long after the speech was given, were the thoughts that those children didn’t have the luxuries she enjoyed at home. Images of meager homes without beds or running water and often without food remained. The selflessness of those who gave their lives to serve others made a deep impression.

Years later, in the summer of 2013, Ariana’s mom, Lisa and youngest sister, Alyssa made the journey to Chimbote. Unable to go with, Ariana decided to get involved in her own way. With a new found love for running and the desire to accomplish her first-ever marathon, Ariana’s idea of “Running for a Reason 2014” was born. She created a website, then engaged family and friends through facebook, twitter, emails, and word of mouth. Back in North Dakota mom and dad were instrumental in helping spread the word too. Lisa (mom) encouraged her employer, The Jamestown Sun, to run a story on Ariana’s endeavor and Ariana was off and running!

“I’m thankful to all the people who made it successful, helping and supporting me and especially to mom, dad, and my sister for being there to watch me” says Ariana.

Over $2200 was raised by this once 5th grader with a heart for other children in another land. We’re grateful for Ariana’s passion for others and her ability to put it into action. We think there will be some happy 5th graders in Chimbote when they too have the means to follow their hearts with a reason of their own.

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