Jamie Freedlund crossed a makeshift finish line near her Bourbonnais home after running a marathon distance on Friday.
Freedlund signed up for a full marathon in Champaign the same weekend to run in honor of the 10-year anniversary of the passing of her daughter, Mattea Joy Freedlund, as well as the founding of the family's non-profit Mattea's Joy.
After the race's cancellation, she and her husband, Gary, decided to run the miles around town instead. Friends and family arrived ahead of the last mile to surprise her with signs and cheers from a safe distance, as well as a fire extinguisher finish. Freedlund, who runs a half-marathon in Champaign every year around the anniversary, said crossing the finish line this year was meaningful.
"I wanted to set a bigger goal to honor the 10th anniversary," Freedlund said. "I wanted to run for joy. It felt good."
The Freedlund's started Mattea's Joy after their daughter's passing in 2010 to help families with critically ill children find joy in the journey. They provide monthly meals, care packages, food and gas cards as well as tips from parents that have had similar experiences.
To learn more or donate to Mattea's Joy, visit matteasjoy.org.
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