Monday, March 14, 2016


In the 1998-1999 school year, a young lady by the name of Liz was a student in my wife Jennifer's 8th grade science class. Jen recalls Liz as a sweet, unassuming young lady. A couple of years later, Jennifer and I became members of a church in the Fridley area. Of the many people we met, we happened to sit near Dan and Marlene Call (Liz's parents) one Sunday. We maybe chatted with them one or two Sundays after that but didn't really get to know them that well. Shortly thereafter, the family moved out of state where Dan was called to minister.

We hadn't thought a lot about the Call family until we heard from mutual friends that Liz became engaged to her boyfriend Chris Shepherd in early 2010 and got married later that year. Another few years went by when we learned the news that Liz and Chris were expecting their first child. Upon miscarrying that pregnancy, they got pregnant again almost immediately.

In May 2014, while 20 weeks pregnant, Liz received the devastating news that she had cervical cancer. Given how the cancer had progressed, the doctors urged Liz to begin treatment immediately. Since there was no way possible Liz could carry her baby to term while enduring cancer treatments, she was advised to terminate the pregnancy. But given her indomitable faith in her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Liz decided without hesitation that an abortion was not a viable option. She and husband Chris were unified in their decision that cancer treatments would commence right after daughter Sophie was born.

Despite not being due until October 9, 2014, Sophie arrived July 24, which was about 11 weeks premature. Weighing just under 2-1/2 lbs., Sophie spent a number of days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. But like her mama, Sophie was a fighter and thus used that strength to fully recover. Today, she is a very happy, healthy toddler.

Upon giving birth to her daughter, Liz was to begin treatment immediately for her cancer which, due to her delaying treatment, had spread to other parts of her body. Liz and Chris had decided she would have treatments and surgery at a facility in Phoenix. While there, Liz made the determination to minister to others. Despite her own physical pain in addition to wondering if she would live to see her daughter grow up, Liz made the decision to be a shining light at that clinic. With a beaming smile and an enthusiastic demeanor, Liz wowed the medical professionals and other patients with strength she conveyed

After the initial treatments and surgery, Liz and her family were cautiously optimistic about the path forward. Unfortunately, in a matter of months, the cancer had returned. In mid-October, virtually every organ in Liz's body had shut down with the exception of her heart and lungs. Despite going without food or water for six days, Liz continued to fight for every last breath. Ultimately she took her last breath on Earth (and first in Heaven) on October 19, 2015.

In addition to her unconditional love for her Jesus and her family, Liz also had a passion for running and bringing awareness to the abhorrent practice of human trafficking. On April 9, many around the country will pay homage to Liz by running 4.11 miles in an effort to raise money to combat human trafficking.

At Liz’s funeral, Chris shared how she made a commitment to run every day for a year, and she stuck by that commitment no matter what. In fact, she ran for 411 days until she was injured. In honor of that, her friends are hosting a multi-city, 4.11-mile run, Run #Lizzystrong, in her honor on April 9. The run will help raise awareness to fight human trafficking, a cause Lizzy was passionate about.

Upon learning of Liz's inspirational story of faith, compassion and strength, I chose to participate in the 4.11 mile run. As such, I am also looking to raise money to help combat human trafficking once and for all.

If you feel moved to donate, please check out my fundraising link here. I appreciate any support (as well as motivation to run 4+ miles) that may come my way. However, given the way Liz Shepherd lived her life, I don't believe I'll have to dig too deep for any extra incentive.

Thanks, and God bless.


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