When I was 9, I was running a fake hospital for all the neighborhood Cabbage Patch Kids. It was a serious undertaking with records and everything like Doc McStuffins before there was a Disney Junior. I wasn't running marathons -- the most I ran was around the school playground when we played RCK, code for Run Catch Kiss. Nothing to be incredibly proud of unless you get kudos from outrunning the boys you don't want to smooch.
The adorable Nikolas Toocheck puts me to shame and I love him for it. He's inspiring me and hopefully a whole generation of kids, parents, people everywhere. Nikolas is a 4th grader from West Chester, Pennsylvania, who is working on becoming the youngest person to run in marathons on the seven continents. "Nik Runs the World" is his campaign and he's also doing it to raise $1 million dollars for Operation Warm, a non-profit organization that gives coats to kids who need them.
He's training right now for a 26.2 mile race in Antarctica on February 25th. It's going to be a cold run for Nik, but he's up for it. He recently ran his first marathon on Delaware and has competed in over 100 races. Doctors have been monitoring his health and he's done this whole thing the right way and with tons of support. Toocheck told Operation Warm:
I’ve learned how important it is to help other people who need it and I think that Operation Warm is great because every kid should be able to have their very own warm coat. I get to do something I love so much and help children in need at the same time. It’s so awesome! Is there anything better?
He's 9! He's amazing! Is there anything better than a 9-year-old who is so caring? Way to go, Nik! I think everyone would join me in cheering you on and saying how proud we are of you and your desire to help others.
Helping others, of course, doesn't always happen on the grand scale Nik is displaying ... but even the smallest gestures make this world a better, more loving, and nurturing place. There are pint-sized heroes everywhere -- kids who hold doors open for others, children who make cards for those serving our country far from home, little ones who have lemonade stands and donate the money to the local animal shelter. These are the stories we need to celebrate -- the stories big and small, the baby steps and the giant leaps. Nik is able to do something huge, and we're there to cheer him on, learning from him that helping others starts with a thought and can be carried out by everyone ... even if it's just a smile or neighbor helping neighbor.
Does Nik inspire you to do something? Do you teach your kids to give back? Share your stories.
Image via Operation Warm