Christ Church's Team World Vision running Chicago Marathon for water

  • Cathy Lapinski and Kelly Shiell won the lottery to run in the 2021 Berlin Marathon.

    Cathy Lapinski and Kelly Shiell won the lottery to run in the 2021 Berlin Marathon. Courtesy of Kelly Shiell

Updated 10/8/2021 7:02 PM

Proceeds benefit children and families in nations that struggle to find clean water

Oak Brook, Illinois -- For many marathon runners, the 20th mile is the hardest. It's when fatigue, cramps, blisters begin to take their toll. It's when runners question their limits, knowing they still have 10 kilometers to go.


But the motivation for runners like Cathy Lapinski and Kelly Shiell go beyond pushing themselves to their limits of physical and mental endurance. It becomes a spirited experience because both are running for others in a cause far bigger than their personal goals.

Cathy and Kelly are part of the 2021 Christ Church Team World Vision marathon group running to raise funds and awareness for clean water in nations which struggle to provide their children access to this vital resource.

"One of my life mantras is "Make a Difference," Shiell said. "I believe that World Vision has given me the opportunity to do that globally by raising support for clean water initiatives and locally by engaging in new relationships. Both are opportunities to share the love of Jesus."

She met Lapinski in 2017 at a Bible study and strong friendship fostered as they both trained for the Chicago Marathon.

"This same picture happens every week at our Christ Church team group runs, and it is one of the main reasons I come back year after year," Shiell said. "I love meeting people and getting to know their stories. Although there is a lot of laughter and crazy stories shared, there are also a lot of hard moments of life shared with one another. Sometimes our runs are therapy sessions as we have the unique opportunity to spend 2-5 hours together-listening, sharing and speaking into one another's lives as we run."

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The running duo recently returned from completing the Berlin marathon. Shiell shared the value of this experience:

"On Thanksgiving morning 2019, Cathy and I each received emails that we had won a ballot to run the Berlin Marathon in 2020," Shiell said. "We had entered the Berlin Marathon lottery with only an 11 percent chance of being selected. We were thrilled to have the chance to run another world major marathon, and looked forward to the race in September 2020. Of course, like most things in our world, the race was canceled due to COVID-19, so we deferred our entries until the 2021 race."

"The 2021 Berlin Marathon took place on Sunday, September 26. It was the first world major marathon since March 2020, and the significance of this was not lost on any runner present. There were 25,000 runners that participated, a field smaller than the past. Strict protocols were followed, including proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of running, masking and social distancing. It was an epic day. Cathy and I both finished the race with personal best times," she said.

Though both Lapinski and Shiell are experienced runners, they encourage others to get involved for the ultimate mission is not the physical commitment and accomplishment to running a marathon but the lives impacted through the generosity of others.

"Berlin was my ninth marathon. Chicago will be my 10th," Lapinski said. "Our Christ Church team consists of both experienced runners and those who've never run before. The key connector for all of us is the desire to move our feet so that women and children (in need of clean water) don't need to.


(These families) walk an average of 4 miles one way to find water that is often dirty and contributes to the cycle of sickness and disease. By running marathons and asking others to partner with us, we are able to provide not just clean water, but that basic need opens up doors for the children to go to school, since they aren't spending all day walking for water! Getting an education gives them opportunity. Clean water literally changes their lives," Lapinski said.

"For every $50 raised, World Vision is able to provide clean water for one child for life -- reducing disease, transforming communities and allowing children to attend school and flourish," said Peter Celauro, Director of Domestic Missions and Missional Living at Christ Church. "It has been a thrill to see so many runners in our church family give so much of their time and energy for the sake of others. Their momentum has grown over the years, and the Kingdom impact of this team is truly amazing. What an inspiring witness for Jesus these runners are!"

Since 2010, Christ Church runners have raised more than $1 million for clean water, providing a new chance at life to more than 20,000 children.

"I love to run, and I have personal goals I like to achieve, but that only changes my life. Running marathons with Team World Vision gives me the opportunity to change the lives of many around the globe. That's the kind of lasting impact that keeps me running for clean water every year," Lapinski added.

So far the 2021 Christ Church Team World Vision team has raised more than $145,000 in sponsorship gifts for their participation in the Chicago Marathon, which is Sunday, Oct. 10.

For more information about the Christ Church team of World Vision runners and to donate or sign up for the 2022 Chicago Marathon, visit

About Christ Church: Founded in 1965, Christ Church is a multisite, nondenominational church in the Chicago suburbs with more than 6,000 members. Christ Church features a variety of inspiring worship options including classic, classic communion and contemporary services. All people are offered the opportunity to build life-changing relationships with God and one another with a rich range of spiritual growth resources, and a selection of service ministries aimed at creating positive change in the world. Weekend services are held at the Oak Brook and Butterfield locations, as well as via livestream at