#BigRunSaturdays for Ozone House

When the Big Ten opted to postpone its 2020 season, I wasn't sure what to think. I had just lost my radio gig the day prior, and as a college football writer who lives for every element of college football Saturdays — and quite literally makes a living off of it — I was suddenly looking at an empty, rather bleak fall. 

Shortly afterward, I found my escape. When gyms had closed earlier on in 2020, I had taken to running, finding it to be a good way to fight off energy, anxiety, frustration and other emotions that would flare up through a draining spring and summer for all of us. So looking at a fall with more of the same, I decided to ramp up my running.

Spinning the FOX phrase, "Big Noon Saturday," I began doing #BigRunSaturdays. Each Saturday morning, rather than prepare for a long day of coverage, I would run between 10 and 18 miles. Emulating the rhythm of college football season, I'd spend the week preparing with practice runs before kicking off the one that counted. In addition to the well-known benefits to running, these runs offered a sense of purpose and competition I didn't know I needed. In my mind, I went 8-0.

Now, of course, the Big Ten season is back, but I don't want to squander what turned out to be a fabulous help to both my mental and physical health. On Sunday, Nov. 1, I will be running a solo marathon (my first marathon) around the streets of Ann Arbor to cap my running "season." 

And to make it actually count for something, I will be raising money for Ozone House — one of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti's most important nonprofit services (https://ozonehouse.org/). Providing housing, support programs and other services such as a 24/7 crisis line, Ozone House is a fantastic and unfortunately necessary place for runaway, homeless and high-risk youth and their families.

Every year, Ozone House fields over 2000 calls, conducts more than 4000 hours of therapy and provides refuge for more than 800 youth in Washtenaw County. At one time living next door to Ozone House and volunteering there in the past, I personally vouch for the group's cause and impact. Even during the pandemic, Ozone House has been able to offer counseling, case management services, shelter and other resources for those who need it the most.

I hope you consider donating to this cause. While this pandemic has been hard on every one of us for a number of reasons, it's worth remembering that many in our community are struggling with battles they simply can't take on alone.

Personally, I am donating $132 — one for every mile I ran on "game days" this fall — and when the pandemic ends, will volunteer one hour at Ozone House or a partner organization for every $25 I am able to raise.

I am also hoping to use the opportunity to help spread awareness of Ozone House's mission, and the critical importance of all of our mental health during a trying time for our society. If you yourself are struggling or need to talk to someone, please call (734) 662-2222 for Ozone House's crisis line, and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

If you choose to donate, feel free to drop advice, motivation, songs to add to my playlist, a personal story or anything else you'd like to share. Every small amount not only makes a difference, but will hopefully keep my spirits high during some of the race's tougher miles. 

Stay safe, and thank you so much!


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Zach Shaw 
Ann Arbor, MI
Ozone House (Ozone House) 
Registered nonprofit
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