Racing for a causePublished 9:07am Saturday, September 28, 2013
Juana Raatz knew she wanted to run another marathon. She also knew she wanted to find a way to benefit a fundraiser at her church. That’s how she found herself running in the upcoming Mankato Marathon to raise funds for Operation Christmas Child.
Raatz goes to Crossroads Church, and church members get together each November to fill shoeboxes with toiletries, goodies and other products that are sent to needy people in countries all around the world through Samaritan’s Purse. Raatz said she gets her seven children involved in the effort, too, and it teaches them a good lesson during the holiday season.
“It’s so good for our kids not to just think of stuff they want,” Raatz said.
The marathon she’s running is the Mankato Marathon on Oct. 20. That’s right before her church buys the supplies they use to pack the shoeboxes.
She has been training for the 26.2-mile race by running early in the mornings either alone or with her running buddy. Raatz said she is grateful for her quiet running time, and she often uses that time to pray. She also has a mantra she repeats during long runs.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Raatz said.
Three years ago, Raatz decided it was time she finally ran a marathon after talking and thinking about it for years. Since then she has run a full marathon, three half marathons and a few 5k races.
“I really enjoy running,” Raatz said.
It helps calm her in the mornings before she begins her busy day of homeschooling her children, which she has been doing for 5 1/2 years.
“It’s challenging and you have to be disciplined,” Raatz said. “But it’s a great opportunity.”
Raatz has been married to her husband, Nathan, for 11 1/2 years. Nathan works at Interstate Packaging. Both Raatz and her husband were born and raised in Albert Lea. They have seven children: Dominick, 20, Delaney, 15, Natania, 9, Natalie, 8, Noah, 6, Nehemiah, 4, and Natessa, 7 months.
Together the family enjoys traveling, camping and riding bicycles. She and other parents who homeschool have group activities like bowling and visiting museums and events, too.
“We like to say we’re not raising kids, we’re raising adults,” Raatz said with a smile.
And doing projects like Operation Christmas Child gives Raatz a way to get her children involved with a good cause. Call Raatz at 373-6583 to find out how to donate to the Operation Christmas Child cause or go to www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/juanaraatz to donate online.