CHARLESTON—Road races traditionally offer participants an opportunity to raise funds for countless charities in their communities. For Sister Mary Beth Lloyd, it was an opportunity to bring her charity to the race.
A member of the Religious Teachers Filippini in Morristown, N.J., Sister Mary Beth ran in the Cooper River Bridge Run on April 7. An avid runner with many races of all distances to her credit, this was her first time participating in Charleston’s signature road race.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Sister Lloyd said. “It was so well organized, and everyone was so happy and positive.”
Sister Mary Beth had come to the Lowcountry to thank the sewing group from Christ Our King-Stella Maris churches, who have made over 4,000 articles of clothing for her cause. As a bonus, she took part in the race on behalf of her charitable organization, AIDS Orphans Rising, which spreads awareness and provides for children in impoverished countries such as Ethiopia, where many of the children were orphaned because their parents died of AIDS.
“(The children) have very little to eat, very little clothing or education, so we’re doing what we can to help them,” she said.
Her participation in Saturday’s race, which included more than 27,000 participants, raised nearly $20,000 for the cause.
“Usually, when a group asks me to run, they’ll put it out there on their Facebook page,” she said. This time, within a few minutes of being posted, about $5,000 in donations poured in from online.
“I think it’s probably a little more than 50-50,” Sister Mary Beth said of the donations. “A little more than half of all donations come in from online, the rest come from checks.”
A 10K road race — a little under 6.25 miles — is not Sister Mary Beth’s usual event. She’s run longer races, including distances up to 100 miles, and says her goal is not to finish first, but just to finish. Bridge run organizers allowed her to start with the elite runners.
“(The Bridge Run) was a little too fast for me,” Sister Mary Beth admitted. “I felt so privileged because they put me on the front line, so I started out running with the elite runners. I didn’t finish with the elite runners — in fact, I got run over by a lot of the elite runners.”
She finished the course in about 1 hour and 21 minutes, and said that all during the race, as in previous races, people stopped to talk to her and she took the opportunity to encourage them to donate to her cause.
“I always run with a rosary,” she said. “And (on Saturday), people ran by me and asked me to pray for them or for someone else, and I tell them that I would. And other people ran right past me and yelled out, ‘I beat you.’ No one wants to get beaten by the nun.”
By Chip Lupo / Special to The Miscellany
For more on Sister Mary Beth’s charity, see http://themiscellany.org/?s=Sister+Mary+Beth+Lloyd
Top photo: Sister Mary Beth (far left) prepares to line up with other runners before the start of the Bridge Run.