Life’s most beautiful journeys often are met with bittersweet circumstances and this past week, while incredibly fulfilling and productive, was one such milestone along the path of Dr. Clayton Lawrence, President and CEO of LEAP Foundation DC.
The endurance runner, who is on a personal mission to participate in marathons on each of the continents, took a much-anticipated trip to Paris for the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris April 14, 2019. While his time in The City of Lights was one of thrilling opportunity, his travels were met with tragedy when, on his last day in Paris, he saw the images of an integral piece of the city’s history up in flames.
“My heart goes out to this beautiful city that was so welcoming to me while I explored its streets and historic landmarks,” Dr. Lawrence said. “To see such a celebrated part of history engulfed by fire has really had such a profound effect on so many of us. Just a few days ago, I was enjoying its breathtaking stature and taking photos there to memorialize my visit.”
Flames ripped through the Notre Dame de Paris (Notre Dame Cathedral) Monday, which is located in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. The Gothic cathedral, known as “Our Lady of Paris,” has been featured in timeless classics, such as Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame,”
“This tragic occurrence is a reminder that nothing is really ever promised for any particular length of time,” Dr. Lawrence said. “This is a church that has been around for so long. It survived two World Wars and 850 years of time. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to visit it as one of my first stops in France and appreciative of being a part of the Paris marathon.”
The race welcomed about 50,000 runners to the city, which provided a truly unique experience, offering participants a running tour of iconic landmarks, like the Arc de Triomphe, the Tour Eiffel, the Musée du Louvre and, of course, the beloved Notre Dame de Paris.
“I am pleased to have been a part of such a magnificent marathon experience in Paris in order to raise awareness and support for the American Institute for Cancer Research,” Dr. Lawrence said. “LEAP is very interested in supporting organizations that recognize the connection between healthy living and disease, especially when we apply this to today’s youth. The opportunity to support a cancer-focused charity that makes the connection between diet and physical activity and this devastating disease serves as a powerful tool for the Foundation’s mission.”