On July 17, Dr. Dennis Godby, his two sons Isaiah and Jeremiah, and his nephew, Jonas Ely, will set out on an odyssey that will take them from San Francisco to Bridgeport, Connecticut—on foot.
Simply called “The Run,” the Godbys’ endeavor has a simple goal: To highlight the pressing need to put health back in American health care—and to make people aware that there are practitioners willing and able to provide a more health-centric type of care.
“I love this country. In my lifetime, I’ve run, driven, or hitchhiked through every state. It pains me to see so many people living below the threshold of vitality. The average American is getting sicker, more obese, and more depressed. That’s not acceptable to me,” said Dr. Godby, a naturopathic doctor in Sacramento, CA
An avid runner who participated in the nationwide Run for Peace back in the 1980s, Dr. Godby said his initial idea was to run across the country to spotlight the naturopathic profession and make people aware of the potential value that well-trained naturopathic doctors could bring to health care’s table. But the focus broadened very quickly.
Going Beyond Prevention
“We live in a nation where the only widely acceptable approach to medicine is pharmaceutical-based, and focused on treatment of advanced disease. We need to go beyond treating disease, and even beyond preventing disease. We need to move toward real health, which means so much more than just preventing really bad things from happening,” he told Holistic Primary Care, a media sponsor for The Run.
“I want my patients to have great lives! To live their lives to the fullest, with energy, vitality, and enthusiasm.” To this end, naturopaths, functional medicine practitioners, holistically-minded MDs and nurses, and other like-minded professionals have much to offer the nation. “We need to de-marginalize what we do. With The Run, we’re literally putting our bodies on the line for that cause.”
The Run is receiving support from some of the leading practitioner-level nutraceutical companies, including Metagenics, Nordic Naturals, Bioresource, and Professional Complementary Health Formulas, as well as national and regional organizations representing naturopathic and holistic practitioners.
The 3,250 mile course of the run obliges the Godby team to cover roughly 30 miles per day. As they make their way through communities across the country, they’ll be met by other runners who share the vision and who want to accompany the team for segments of the itinerary.
Regional groups are organizing events—lectures, picnics, community meetings, health fairs & soirees to welcome the runners, celebrate the work of natural medicine practitioners, and call attention to the nation’s still unmet health needs.
Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Healthiness
The Run will come through New York City, Holistic Primary Care’s home base, on Veteran’s Day weekend. HPC is working with NYC-area practitioners to create a public event centered on the theme of, “Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Healthiness,” to be held on Friday, 11-11-11.
“Since it will be Veteran’s Day, and just two months following the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, there will be a lot of energy and rhetoric in NYC about American values and virtues. So we want to honor the nation’s veterans, and connect the spirit and vision of The Run with the broader issue of health freedom,” explained HPC’s publisher.
“Freedom of health choice is one of those core American values, or at least it should be. Unfortunately too many Americans do not really have freedom of choice. Insurance companies and other corporate interests limit our options. Physicians practice in an increasingly restrictive, litigious environment that often forces them to go against their best judgment. Economic pressures are pushing many small practices to the brink. Where’s the freedom in all of this?”
Ms. Sinclair added that veterans and their families have tremendous unmet health needs.
“Many are falling through the cracks, especially once they leave the military. PTSD and other fallout from combat duty have devastating effects on many vets’ lives. Conventional medicine doesn’t have much to offer. Yet we know effective therapies are merging from the fields of mind-body medicine, acupuncture, naturopathy, biofeedback and nutrition-based medicine. We want veterans as well as the general public to know about these options,” she said. (Read Dr. Gil Winkelman’s two-part series on natural medicine for traumatic brain injury).
Dr. Godby said the health freedom message is an important one. “People love to say, “America’s the greatest country in the world!” It’s great they’re proud of their country, but what good is it to live in the “greatest country” if you feel like crap because your adrenals are shot and you’re exhausted, or you’re struggling with obesity and diabetes, and might lose a limb, and your family’s going bankrupt because of medical costs? What kind of freedom and liberty is that?”
He and his family have been preparing for The Run for the last 18 months. In addition to a grueling training schedule that he’s had to fit into his already jammed life, he’s had to ensure that his busy practice is covered while he and his boys hoof their way across the country. Dr. Godby’s patients will be in the capable hands of Dr. Paulina Caban, while he is gone.
Among his trusty companions, Dr. Godby will have his ever-attentive portable digital recorder. “I love the endorphin high that comes from running. It’s what got me into running in the first place, and it often sparks a lot of creative thinking. So I just record my thoughts, kind of like downloading from my mind into the recorder.” He’ll be blogging and sharing insights over the course of The Run.
Ultimately, The Run is about empowerment—for practitioners and patients alike. “Really, what we want to do is create a dialog,” Dr. Godby said. “We want to meet people and exchange information about how we can help each other heal!”
The Run will begin in San Francisco on July 17, 2011, and will end in Bridgeport, CT on November 16, 2011. If you share the vision, there are many ways to get involved:
• Mention The Run in your patient education newsletters, in your blog, on your website, and at conferences you attend.
• Make a per-mile donation: If you can contribute just one penny per mile per runner ($0.01 x 3250 miles x 4 runners), that would amount to a contribution of $130 to defray costs & help raise awareness.
• Connect: Join our online Facebook community, Twitter, and blog. Help spread the word exponentially!
• Run with us: Check the itinerary posted on www.therun.org and see when The Run is passing through your area. Join the runners for part of the route, or just come out to cheer them on.
• Participate in local events: Teams are organizing celebrations, health fairs & education programs connected with The Run all over the country. Check the site & find out what’s happening near you.
• Consider Sponsorship: Donations to The Run are always welcome, and corporate sponsorships are also available. Email Meghan@TheRun.org for more information.