Parents Beast in Honor of Daughter
A ten-mile obstacle course challenge with more than 25 obstacles.
Mark Spellman and his wife, Megan, had never done anything like that before. But it didn’t stop them from signing up with six of their friends for the 2016 Barber Beast on the Bay. To keep them going, they all had some special inspiration.
Mark and Megan’s daughter, Leah, has been attending the Elizabeth Lee Black School for three years. “The amount of hope and opportunity Leah has had in that time surpasses anything we have known,” said Mark. “It’s just not comparable to anything else.”
In fact, the Spellmans had been living in Ohio, but were not satisfied that their school was meeting Leah’s needs. Over and over, people told them that they should look at the Barber National Institute in Erie. “We visited on a Wednesday afternoon, stopped at a realtor’s on the way home and put our house up for sale two days later,” said Mark. “Moving was the best decision we made.”
From Volunteer to Participant
Mark and Megan were introduced to the Beast on the Bay in 2015, when they volunteered at a water station with other members of their family. Halfway through, they decided “Next year we’re doing this,” said Mark.
“We had thought that this would be something we could never do. But we watched people of varying fitness levels and ages and decided that we had to try,” said Mark. “When I crossed the finish line, I felt like it was really an accomplishment.”
In June, Mark dislocated his shoulder playing softball but was determined that his injury would heal in time for the event. Unfortunately, Megan wasn’t so lucky. She injured her ankle a few weeks before the Beast and so again joined other family members who were volunteering. But the couple is already signed up for 2017, and Mark is looking forward to coming back.
“It was great how people help each other over the obstacles,” said Mark. “It’s not like we knew who everyone was, but we were all helping each other.”
Mark and Megan named their team “Beast for Bug” in honor of their daughter, who is now six years old. “Before she was born and we didn’t know whether we were having a boy or a girl, we just referred to the new baby as ‘doodlebug.’ It was shortened to ‘Bug’ and the name stuck,” said Mark. “More people probably know her by ‘Bug’ than Leah.”
Getting Ready for 2017
The Spellmans are well on their way to reaching – and maybe surpassing – their goal of 20 team members with 18 friends already signed up for 2017. Mark said that getting people to register up was pretty easy. “We have a very diverse group, with some people who run and work out a lot and others not so much. But everyone knows how much the Barber National Institute means to us and how much we love the school.”
Mark said that the most challenging part of the event was running on the sand, and he plans to be better prepared for that next year. But the physical challenges were only a part of the appeal. “One of the best things is how everyone seemed to know what the race meant, how it impacted the Barber National Institute and Erie,” said Mark. “Everyone was there for the same reason. It was awesome to see everyone doing this for the cause.”