When my father, Gus Vaughn, turned 65, he retired as a weighmaster from a grain milling company. His desire when he retired was to hike 34 miles from Hooper, Weber County, to the streams east of Causey Dam. With a few rest stops along the way, he fulfilled his sought-after vision.
Gus didn’t attain his aspiration without prior preparation. He trained a year ahead of time by becoming involved in jogging. He ran along the streets of Hooper and surrounding towns. He participated in 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons, all of which led to fulfilling his dream of hiking through treacherous mountains at age 65. His personal dream had come true and he received a well-deserved commendation from his family.
Gus set an example — not only in perseverance in running and hiking — as his faithfulness in living the gospel of Jesus Christ continued to influence his family throughout their lives.
He continued to run into his 70s. He took on a personal challenge to run a marathon. He stayed a comfortable speed alongside other runners. He was strong and in shape. Nevertheless the race became challenging. Experiencing total exhaustion, and close to the finish line, Gus quit. He lay on the lawn beneath a shade tree. His daughter (my sister) Karen found him there. She pulled on his arm and spoke to him with kind determination, “Get up, Dad! You can make it! Keep going!”
It took a few minutes to convince him, “You’re almost there, Dad. The finish line is just around the corner,” Karen coaxed.
And it was. Gus completed the race with honor.
The late Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: "With enduring comes a willingness, therefore, to 'press forward' even when we are bone weary and would much rather pull off to the side of the road (see 2 Nephi 31:20)" (see "Endure It Well," April 1990 general conference).
Gus continued to hike and to run. He ran many races and two more marathons up into his 70s. Many of Gus’ posterity followed along his path. They hiked and they ran. They followed his model in running and in the exemplary way he lived his life. They all have inspirational stories like their grandpa’s.
Gus’ granddaughter Jill looked up to her grandpa. As a 7-year-old, she had the kind of faith he portrayed. Her faith in him and her Heavenly Father influenced her life. And she had faith in her father, who also was a runner. He invited her to run a 7-mile race. His invitation came only 10 hours before the race was to take place. His little girl hadn’t trained but she was anxious to participate. As dusk crept in, Jill ran around the flower bed on the patio a few times. That was her preparation.
The next morning, Jill started the race with apprehension and eagerness. Waiting for the gun to go off, the young inexperienced runner looked around. Feeling intimidated because she felt younger and smaller than the other runners caused uneasiness. Nevertheless she remained enthused. She was following the example of her father and her grandfather. Jill felt proud.
The racers took off with boundless speed. Jill pushed forward with determination but she had been unaware of how far 7 miles was. How long would the race take? She watched the runners ahead of her go around corner after corner. She followed them. Each time she said to herself, “the finish line must be around the next corner.”
She unrelentingly pressed on. Eventually she became discouraged. And like her grandpa, Jill began to tire. Would her battle to finish go on and on forever? Thinking there was no end, she dropped to the ground with fatigue. And she sobbed!
Before long her dad appeared. Jill — still sitting on the curb — heard his strong encouraging voice, “Get up Jill! You can make it!” With words of love he urged his young daughter on, “Keep going Jill! The end of the race is just around the corner.” And it was.
As she ran toward the finish line — red-faced and perspiring — the deserved boisterous applause from the spectators lightened the little runner’s countenance and she beamed. The spontaneous clapping urged her to finish.1 comment on this story
A little girl had completed a grown-up race with exuberant joy. As her mother, I was proud of my daughter, of the faith she had shown in becoming a winner, faith instilled by her father and grandfather.
We all face challenges. Answers, freedom, understanding, relief are near, just around the corner.
Sister Mary N. Cook, who served as the first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, said, "The Lord will be with you and you will be able to stay on the path that leads to … eternal life. 'Be strong and of a good courage' (Joshua 1:9) and never, never, never give up!" (see "Never, Never, Never Give Up!" April 2010 general conference).