New Year, New Life

Happy New Year! While many of us are setting goals and resolutions for the days to come, what better way to do so than with a dose of inspiration. Read on to see how one woman changed her life, and became a role model for her family, community—and even for herself.

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Five years ago, 44-year-old marathoner and mother of two Erin Martin lost her leg due to an illness. She’d always been active, athletic and busy, so the loss felt more encompassing. “I had to figure out who I was again,” she says.

One thing Martin didn’t bank on, however, was running again. But then last year her outlook changed. “I am a New Year’s resolution person, and last year it was to do more yoga, run, and be fearless,” she says. Martin had attended a running clinic for challenged athletes, yet quickly learned she couldn’t do much with her clunky walking prosthesis. Her health insurance company wouldn’t cover the costs for a running version, so on New Year’s Eve, she decided to raise money with Indiegogo to fund a new prosthesis. “I have a New Year’s Eve party and I was sitting around with my friends, talking about resolutions,” she says. “We started talking about the fundraiser then, and one of my friends even came up with the name: Leg Up.”

Martin raised $22,560, more than she needed for the new prosthesis, so she donated $5000 to the Challenged Athletes Foundation, to help others receive running legs, too. “People like to help people. Every study shows helping people raises your mood,” Martin says. “I really felt that from the people who contributed to my fundraiser—and I loved that I raised enough to help others.”

Now Martin is running again in full force. While she’s not tackling marathons, she’s been participating in 5Ks and plans to run one just before the Boston Marathon. Martin has also been motivating others to take to the pavement. “I felt a little like a mascot last summer, running in the street. People would be on their lawns and say, ‘Oh! There she goes again!’ My husband runs now, and he’s never run in his life,” she says. “At the gym, people see me on the treadmill and know there are no excuses. I like being a role model in that way.”

What Martin wants most, though, is to be a role model for her kids. “I think it’s good for my kids to see I haven’t been stopped—that I’m in charge of my life,” she says. “The fundraiser actually helped me feel that way. Yes, I’m running again, and it feels great that there’s one less thing I can’t do. But the hardest part about needing the new prosthesis was getting over my initial discomfort with asking people for help. Doing the fundraiser was an opportunity to be fearless. I definitely think I’m more assertive, now, and I believe in myself. I proved to myself I could do it.”

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Feeling motivated to start an Indiegogo Life fundraiser? Click here to get started

Here are three tips from Erin Martin, to help give you a leg up:

>>”Share your fundraiser on Facebook and spread the word. I posted to groups I belonged to, and on my school alumni pages, for example.”

>>”Inject humor! I made fun of my husband, which encouraged our friends to donate. At one point I sent out an email, saying that if we got to $15,000, my husband would have to run the 5K with me! His high-school friends knew him as a non-athlete, and got a kick out of ‘forcing’ him to run with me.”

>>”Make a video! I know nothing about video production and did mine by the seat of my pants. My daughter and I made a slideshow and put it together. We stayed up way too late and laughed and cried—and we still managed to make it. I think it ended up having a really big impact.”