LEBANON, Pa. — Just having someone to talk and relate to is what people need, especially for ones trying to turn their lives around after being involved in incidents so mentally and physically damaging — almost to the point where they could be life threatening. But after a while, victims of those types of incidents then sometimes look for something more to help them regain their lives.

For one local woman, she turned to running just a handful of years ago. Now it’s become a rapidly growing talent that has her training for events all runners strive for. At the same time, she’s also running to raise funds for the organization that played a major role in getting her life back in order.

It’s the inspiring story of Ginny Yingst, who has started the campaign, #MilesforSARCC, (Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center), a fundraiser for the Lebanon County-based organization.

“I’m doing it for SARCC because it’s helped me a lot for my own issues,” Yingst said. “I wouldn’t be here today without them.”

For each mile completed by Yingst, a dollar is donated to SARCC. Yings is on her 48th day of a 60-day run as of Monday, August 22, doing about three to four miles each day. Yingst has already ran more than 125 miles to date. She first jump-started the idea on social media.

“It was something I asked my Facebook friends to do. I put a challenge to them to see if they would match my mileage of 50 cents per mile, so they exceeded my expectations. I make a post every day,” Yingst said. “It just came off the top of my head for me. This is something I could do to pay back for everything they’ve done for me. And it’s really taken off, and I’ve gotten a lot of positive support.”

But from a pure performance standpoint, Yingst never thought she could even run this long.

“I never thought I’d be able to do it myself, to tell you the truth, since I’ve only been running for about three years. It’s helped me improve my pace and given me a lot of self-confidence,” she said. “It’s a win-win situation for me and for SARCC. I hope to do it again next year.”

Yingst, who’s a recovering addict, first enrolled in the SARCC program in 1998. She now serves as a volunteer.

“I went for four years, and it gave me the tools to deal with flashbacks. It was great to know I wasn’t alone about the stuff I was dealing with,” Yingst said. “It gave me a chance to connect with other survivors. It was just a positive experience for me. I also go out and speak about their services.”

And her incredible strength is now demonstrated physically, going from training on an exercise machine inside, to running in her first race in about a year span.

“I started out on a treadmill and then moved outdoors since I got sick looking at a wall. Then on St. Patrick’s Day in 2014, I ran my first race, which was a 5K,” Yingst said, who runs three to four miles a day, starting at 6:30 a.m.

“The cheer from the crowd is something I’ll always remember. I’ve also lost 40 pounds, so it’s good for me mentally and physically. When I’m out running the in beauty of God’s world, I’m always in awe since I never thought I’d be able to do it.”

Now Yingst is challenging herself in working on moving up to a longer race.

“The 5K gave me a lot of confidence. So in November, a group of friends and I are going to Annapolis to run a 10K across the Chesapeake Bridge.”

And assuming her next race goes well, Yingst doesn’t want to stop there.

“I’d like to run in Philadelphia in 2017 in the half marathon,” she said. “I stepped out of my box and helping women who have the same interests as I do. I just enjoy it.”

Then how about working her way to running a full marathon as an encore? Yingst says maybe not quite that quickly.

“For me, it’s just one day at a time. I don’t want to look past a half-marathon yet. Because I’m a recovered addict, if I start thinking ahead, I’ll probably lose interest,” she said. “I could probably do a 15K, since I’ve done 8 miles on a trail.”

And as if challenging herself to run longer races wasn’t enough, Yingst also does weight training and boot camp twice a week.

But besides running, faith is also been a major component in Yingst’s recovery.

“I’m a big believer in prayer. A lot of it is my own praying and asking for God’s guidance and then waiting for what he says to me,” Yingst said, who just retired in February after serving as a secretary at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church of Christ in Lebanon. “And now I haven’t had a drink or anything in 17 years.”

And for anyone who may be in the same position Yingst was almost a decade ago, she says getting help is the first order of business.

“Find a sex assault counseling center and get into their support group is what I would recommend anyone do looking for help,” she said. “You get to talk with survivors who’ve gone through what you went through. There’s nothing better. In fact, SARCC was referred to me right away when I first needed help.”


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Information from: Lebanon Daily News, http://www.ldnews.com