The family and friends of Yeardley Love, a University of Virginia lacrosse player who lost her life in a tragic incident of domestic violence, have banned together to start a running team. This past weekend, Every Yard for Yeardley took to the streets for the Baltimore Marathon to raise money for the One Love Foundation, created in Yeardley's memory. Yeardley's mother, Sharon, and her sister, Lexie, reflect on the day.
espnW: How did the idea for the Every Yard for Yeardley team come about?
Sharon Love (SL): There were three people who came up with the concept to create a team in Yeardley's honor: Lane Holby, his brother Neil, and their friend Courtney Schaefer. Neil will be graduating from UVA in May, and Courtney is an alumnus. Lane has done all three of our races. The team's first race was the Richmond Marathon last year. It was a massive undertaking, but they put it together perfectly. They wanted to make $5,000 and they ended up making $60,000. I'm not sure we would have thought of the idea if it weren't for them.
espnW: Baltimore was Every Yard for Yeardley's third marathon. What causes does that money help support?
SL: We have helped to support the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School [boys'] lacrosse team, and now we're going to help them with their academic endeavors, including assistance with college.
We are also working to start a girls' lacrosse team with 7- to 9-year-old girls, who all live in inner-city Baltimore. We would like to find 50 girls and then split them into smaller groups. We hope to stay with them and continue devoting money to them as they grow up. The trouble we have with inner-city kids is transportation -- getting them home. I'd like to have a small bus and a driver to get the kids around so we won't have that problem. We also thought the girls could work with the elderly, teaching them how to use Facebook and email to help connect them so they're not lonely. The elderly could email back and forth with these girls. Eventually, we would also like to get the girls helping the elderly with physical activity -- a get-up-and-move type of thing.
espnW: You live in Cockeysville, Md., where your kids lived before heading off to college. Did the Baltimore Marathon have any added significance since it took place in your backyard?
SL: Yes, it did. It was so nice to see everybody that came up from our hometown to participate and support us. We also had supporters from Yeardley's sorority and her lacrosse team, as well. We had a dinner before the race Friday night, and a lunch after the race. It was really nice.
espnW: Sharon, you did the 5K event, and Lexie, you ran the half marathon. What was the most rewarding part of the day, and what emotions were running through your mind during the race?
SL: I did the 5K very slowly. I don't know whether I'd call it a run. It was a brisk walk! The most rewarding part of the day was the fact that we had so much support from so many people. To see how many people -- over a year later -- are still behind us and are still helping our cause is very touching. Everybody has been so wonderful and done so much.
When you see all the One Love T-shirts, you feel like you are part of something much bigger. I am so happy to do this in Yeardley's name. I felt like she was up there cheering for all of us. I still think she's in awe of what's going on in her name. I think she probably still can't believe it.
Lexie Love [LL]: Just [thoughts of] Yeardley ... and how many people came together in support of her. I was constantly seeing the No. 1 or Every Yard for Yeardley T-shirts run by me. There were at least 25 different times I heard "Go, Yeardley" cheers from the crowd, many from people I didn't even know. That was the best feeling.
After the race, a friend put together a gathering at a local restaurant, and seeing everyone in their One Love T-shirts talking about accomplishing their goals -- everyone was in such a good mood. It was a happy, calm feeling.
espnW: Training-wise, how did you prepare for the half marathon?
LL: Training was the most emotionally challenging part of the process. When you're training, you have a lot of time by yourself to think about why you are doing this. During the race, I ran with my cousin and best friend. We talked and kept each other motivated. I ran a couple times a week for a few months beforehand. I never did more than eight miles at one time. Before the Baltimore Marathon, I had never run more than eight miles in my life, but I was determined to it for Yeardley.
espnW: How many people ran for Every Yard for Yeardley, and how much money did the team raise?
LL: We had around 80 people participate on behalf of Yeardley.
SL: More than $40,000, and the money is still coming in. We're nearing $45,000. If people would like to donate, they can visit our donation website.
espnW: In what ways is the Every Yard for Yeardley team helping to carry on Yeardley's memory?
SL: She was athletic and could run like the wind. The money that is being raised in Yeardley's name that's going to help others is the main way we'll be carrying on her memory. We hope to do a lot of good with the money we raise.
espnW: Yeardley was a standout on the lacrosse field. Lexie, were you an athlete growing up? If so, how did athletics help create a bond between you and your sister?
LL: I played soccer, lacrosse and field hockey growing up. We spent hours after school until it got dark out tossing the lacrosse ball back and forth. It was the first activity that we chose to do. We also spent a lot of time together in the car driving back and forth to lacrosse games and practices every weekend.
espnW: Do you find running on the Every Yard for Yeardley team to be a therapeutic part of the grieving process?
LL: Yes, because it literally brings everyone together to support a good cause. Everyone always has a smile on their face. It's an overall positive thing in memory of Yeardley.
espnW: What was it like crossing the finish line?
LL: I was just so happy. Yeardley would have been proud.
Want to get involved? To make a contribution to the One Love Foundation, or to join or start an Every Yard for Yeardley team in your neighborhood, visit joinonelove.org.