God's connections land Newsom in Boston Marathon

Trish Newsom said it on national television, so she really wanted to find a way to make it come true.

Just after the then-California resident finished her first marathon, she told Pat Sajak, Vanna White and several million viewers when she was a contestant on "Wheel of Fortune" that she would like to qualify for the Boston Marathon one day.

Newsom said she made the statement "knowing I'd never be able to make it." And, the Arkansas native said, she'd already "called the hogs" at Sajak's behest, so how bad could her farfetched statement be?

Flash-forward a decade.

On April 16, the Soddy-Daisy resident and Dayton City School physical education teacher will be in Boston to run the marathon.

"It's the Holy Grail of marathons," she said.

The route Newsom, 42, has taken to the storied Patriots' Day event is circuitous and one she's aware requires a little help from her friends.

Although she officially qualified for the marathon in Tupelo, Miss., in September, her time did not hold up for a second-round qualifying cutoff.

Once Newsom weathered that disappointment, she sought to run with the national Alzheimer's Association charity team, then later with the Team Hoyt charity. The latter charity was full and had several people in front of her but said it would hold her name in case of a cancellation.

The Alzheimer's Association eventually notified her it did not accept her, but Team Hoyt, in time, offered her a slot.

"God knew I needed a team," she said.

To be a part of Team Hoyt, however, Newsom must raise $5,000 for The Hoyt Foundation, which aspires to build the individual character, self-confidence and self-esteem of America's disabled young people through inclusion in all facets of daily life.

The faces of Team Hoyt are Massachusetts residents Dick and Rick Hoyt, who will be running in their 30th Boston Marathon - Rick, who has cerebral palsy, in his wheelchair, and Dick pushing him.

The fundraising is where Newsom said her friends - "my running angels," she calls them - come in.

Some of them have organized the Run With Trish 5K for Team Hoyt, which will be March 10 at the Tennessee Riverpark.

Among the organizers is Gina McDaniel, who met Newsom with a group of other runners from her church, Bayside Baptist, at a 2011 race. It also was a member of the church's running group who suggested she contact Team Hoyt.

"God just placed her in the right place at the right time with us," she said. "We prayed about it and felt like we needed to [organize] a run for her."

In addition to being a running buddy, Newsom is a spiritual inspiration, McDaniel said.

"She has love for lots of people," she said. "She's such a blessing, and her blog site has made me want to dig deeper [in spiritual matters], to learn more. She's just an awesome person."

In addition to the 5K, Newsom is collecting money from a Pennies for People campaign through Dayton City School, from the sale of Butter Braid pastries and through an upcoming yard sale.

To date, she said, she has raised nearly $2,000 of the $5,000 she'll need.

"It's been unbelievable how [God] has connected people, things, relationships," said the married stepmother of two. "I'm floored. I'm still amazed."

Newsom said her running life was transformed when she agreed to teach a Run for God class at her church, Rechoboth Baptist, in Soddy-Daisy.

Unplugging her music as she ran, she instead began praying, "paying attention to God's creation" and making it more of a worship time.

Newsom said she came to realize running is like life - full of ups and downs and occasionally bumpy. But God had given her the ability to run, and, even when "I can't put one foot in front of another," she said, she needed to make the most of it.

Her motto, she said, became "let go and let God."

Once in Boston for the race, Newsom said, she'd like to shave about four minutes off her best marathon time in order to qualify for the 2013 event.

If that's not possible, she said, "I just want to be able to finish."

Andrew Dorn, the manager at Front Runner Athletics who helped her train for her qualifying runs, can testify to Newsom's discipline.

"Every single bit of advice I gave her, every workout, she followed to a tee," he said. "She's very coachable and has a lot of self-motivation and drive."

Before the race, Newsom hopes to recover from the lingering effects of plantar fasciitis, to complete the fundraising goal and to begin her speed training.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime event," she said. "It's amazing to see how God has orchestrated this."