On a warm, clear August morning, an unusual sight made its way down the shoulder of a busy highway in Washington State. A tall, lean man ran slowly but steadily, pushing a jogging stroller. In place of a baby, though, were supplies like a sleeping bag and food. The man running wore a white T-shirt with “the run” spelled out in big block letters on the front and back.
Jeremiah Godby got a lot of attention that day—which was precisely the plan. The 19-year-old was on a mission to build awareness about naturopathic medicine. The running was not some fringe activity Jeremiah did to avoid a summer job. In fact, his dad wholeheartedly supported it.
The previous year his father, naturopathic doctor Dennis Godby, began The Run campaign to raise awareness about our nation’s broken medical model. The Run boils down to delivering this message: “To transform the nation’s health, the USA must undergo a paradigm shift in the way it thinks about health and disease.” Last year’s inaugural run hit 16 states, bringing the message to thousands of people, including 24 members of Congress; high school classes in Washington, DC; shop owners in Winnemucca, Nevada; and college students in Dayton, Ohio.
When The Run hit Boulder, Colo., Governor John Hickenlooper declared August 26 National Alternative Medicine Awareness Day. Dennis wants The Run to evolve into a permanent organization to help transform America’s health. This past August, Dennis’s two sons ran across the West Coast pushing baby strollers to get the word out about alternative medicine. It may seem a bit random, but if you’ve been using running as a vehicle for change for most of your life, like Dennis has, it makes pretty good sense.
An ailing healthcare model
You’d think for a man who is such a believer in naturopathic medicine that working as a practitioner in this field would be the dream job. But the day-in, day-out “touch one person at a time” approach was lacking meaningful effect for Dennis. He found his work as a clinical naturopathic physician simply not impactful enough to alter the path of our ailing medical system—a system he says relies on pharmaceutical drugs with nasty side effects that don’t treat root causes. “People are suffering across a broad spectrum, from life-threatening diseases like diabetes to joy-threatening conditions like anxiety,” he remarks. “They need to learn that options exist outside of drugs, such as diet and exercise.
“People simply aren’t taking care of themselves. We have to realize that our health, what we eat and our exercise, is a personal responsibility because it affects the whole society. So when we make these individual choices about how we take care of ourselves, they become communal choices,” Dennis points out.
Alongside lack of awareness and responsibility concerning wellness, Dennis was tired of alternative forms of medicine constantly playing second fiddle to drug-based medicine. “I remember one time when I went to this meeting of local business owners in Sacramento and nobody had ever heard of a naturopathic doctor; nobody knew what it was that I did for a living. I mean, it was pathetic. There is a real lack of awareness about it. I felt as if this group was symbolic of the rest of the nation,” laments Dennis.