Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.
Linda Quirk didn’t start running until she was 35 when her brother asked if she wanted to run a marathon with him. She took on the challenge with no formal training and was immediately hooked. She moved on to Ironman triathlons for about eight years before a near-fatal bike accident fractured almost every bone in her skull, shattered her occipital bones and threatened her ability to ever compete again.
Three days in ICU and months unable to perform any physical activity, even read or watch TV due to a severe disruption in her equilibrium, Quirk had a lot of time to think. She realized her purpose was to give back, and that is when her focus for competing changed, her calling was to help others. Her daughter, now in recovery 10+ years after a methamphetamine addiction, inspired her vision. Despite the advice of her neurologist and her family’s wishes, she got back in the saddle, this time with the purpose of raising money for addiction treatment.
She raised $50,000 for Caron Treatment Centers before her final Ironman competition in Kona, Hawaii before making the decision to transition back to running, a lower-risk option for Quirk after her accident.
She went on to run seven marathons on seven continents in one year (Run7on7) before establishing Runwell, “You can find meaning in every pitfall if you look. I know the reason Runwell exists is because of my bike accident, I knew I needed to find a way to help and that God meant for me to do this. I needed to find something that would build the awareness for the giving back component, which is where I came up with running a marathon on every continent, and it evolved from there.”
And it’s still evolving.
In fact, the organization has reached more people every year in operation and doesn’t show signs of slowing. Quirk wants to see Runwell reach its full potential. She feels its mission will thrive under the umbrella of a well-established organization such as Caron.
President and CEO of Caron Treatment Centers since 1995 is also excited about this acquisition. He says:
“Knowing that so many families lacked the resources for treatment, Linda Quirk stepped up to offer help in a unique way. By running seven marathons on seven continents to raise awareness and contributions for the treatment scholarships, Linda blazed a trail more than eight years ago that hundreds now have followed. It is truly amazing to see how Linda has grown Runwell into a national organization raising money and awareness to help families impacted by the disease of addiction. We are so grateful for Linda’s leadership of Runwell and look forward to the long journey ahead. There are so many miles to run and so many lives to change. Through this partnership, Caron is proud to help take Runwell to the next level.
As does Runwell's Race Director Kim Pawelek:
"I’m personally excited for this new opportunity for Runwell as we move underneath the umbrella of the Caron organization. Caron will help grow and strengthen the Runwell name and mission as we strive to erase the stigma of addiction while providing a healthy and active approach to recovery. Additionally, Runwell will be able to operate under an established infrastructure that will only increase our potential to generate and capture a much larger audience of supporters; essentially catapulting Runwell's presence into more communities affected by addiction. Our impact will be felt now more than ever. It couldn’t be