Running for a reason: Mom runs NYC marathon to aid Houston hurricane relief

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Annie Hewitt says she's running for a cause: to clean up her neighborhood after Harvey. (KTRK)

They call it a "runner's high," a sense of euphoria that brings about a decrease in discomfort despite peaking during double-digit mile runs.

However, Annie Hewitt, a west Houston mother of four, would just tell you her long runs give her an escape from life's worries. In the time since Hurricane Harvey flooded her home, her usual runs along Buffalo Bayou have taken on greater meaning.

This weekend, Hewitt will head to the east coast to run the 2017 New York City Marathon. With each mile she runs, she hopes to raise money to help her neighborhood rebuild and cross the finish line with Houston in her heart.

"The biggest take away from Harvey for all of us was the community," said Hewitt, of her Memorial Glen neighborhood. "After the storm, neighbors, friends, family, strangers --people from all over the place were showing up to help. A whole crew of a combination of those people who were in here ripping out the floors, pulling the sheet rock," she said.

Initially, Hewitt had planned on running the 2017 New York City Marathon as a gift to herself while raising money for her sister's charity, Steel Magnolia Moms.

"Her first two have special needs, so my sister has started a non-profit group for moms of kids with special needs," said Hewitt.

But then Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 50 inches of rain on Hewitt's plans. Her neighborhood backs up to a park where a creek, the bayou and a reservoir all combine.

It's usually a picturesque area with a hike and bike trail that Hewitt typically uses as the backdrop for her work, taking portraits of local families.

When Harvey moved in, the rain came down for days. However, it wasn't until her 40th birthday that a combination of record bayou levels and a torrent of water from the release of the reservoir flooded her home.
"That day, my husband had a blow-up kayak and he and the other guys in the neighborhood were going and getting people out of their houses," she said in tears.

About half a foot of water came into her home, though many of her neighbors weren't so lucky.

Now this motivated marathoner has decided to dedicate her training and marathon run to rebuilding her neighborhood and her community, raising money for each mile with the help of a YouCaring page.

"It's great to get out and you have a little time to think and clear the head," said Hewitt. "Honestly, since the storm, I call it my Harvey therapy. It just feels really good to be doing something helpful."

Running for a reason, helping this Houstonian move past the storm.

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