Our “Big Shoulders” Director

If you follow Last Bell on Facebook, you may have run across our post in August about Megan Hershey’s upcoming Big Shoulders Swim. Our U.S. Director was gearing up to swim 2.5 kilometers (about 1.6 miles) in the turbulent waters of Lake Michigan. The Swim was to take place near downtown Chicago, Lakeshore Drive.

In 2015, the Big Shoulders Swim was completely rained out, complete with 8-foot waves and a waterspout! But September 10th, 2016 was mild, with a little rain before and after the race, and the air and water temperatures both hovered around 70 degrees.

Megan had overcome a diagnosis of hip dysplasia and several surgeries to prepare for this race, so we were thrilled for the big day to work out as planned. Megan finished the race. Her swim was also a fundraiser, bringing in $1700 for Last Bell.

We checked in with Megan about her experience with the Big Shoulder Swim, and the last several years of working to accomplish something this physically challenging.

LB: How long have you considered yourself a swimmer?

Megan: I hadn’t really swum competitively since I was 10 years old. I was always a soccer player – I played through college, and always loved being an athlete and competing. Through my 20s I trained for half-marathons and while training, discovered I had this genetic condition. Many years later I began swimming because of my hip dysplasia and the restrictions that came with that, like not running for the rest of my life!

Swimming is one of the places I encounter God, one of the places of silence in my life. Any time I’m near water I’m very much at peace. So it was pretty natural, because it was allowed with my hip disorder, to return to swimming and compete again.

LB: Have you done the Big Shoulders Swim before?

Megan: This was my first time ever doing that distance. There was also a 5k. Most people were master’s level swimmers, which was why I was a little intimidated. But my goal was just to finish and to have joy in my heart. God gave me real enjoyment, a redemptive story of my body and what He’s done to bring me to this place. When I was first diagnosed with hip dysplasia I couldn’t even walk one block. I was using a walker. I wanted to keep both my own story and our Last Bell youth in mind, as they too are overcoming so many odds.


LB: Tell me about doing this swim for Last Bell.

Megan: Because of the ocean of distance between here and Ukraine, I’m always looking for ways to stay connected with our youth and our staff and the culture. It might seem random, but it seemed important to me not just to raise funds but also awareness. And the dysplasia community would be watching, the friends and family who’ve seen me heal and would also share the story of Last Bell to those who have never heard about us.

LB: How does swimming make you feel?

Megan: I like pushing my body to the next level, I like the endurance of it, even the repetitive nature, feeling like I’m in a different terrain with my head underwater. I love the contemplative nature of it, the simple rhythms. In the summer I like to get up early to train, when the sun’s beating down on me. It’s a time to listen to God, a time to check in.

LB: Do you think other friends of Last Bell could consider doing something like this?

Megan: I hope that’s part of the overflow, whatever is in people’s hearts to do. I think about Pastor Gennadiy and his bike marathon through Ukraine to raise awareness for orphans. I think people are curious about what inspires people to push to the next level. I felt if I didn’t finish the race that would be okay, but I wanted to have something bigger in mind, a sense of purpose for training.

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Last Bell Ministries

Loving and restoring orphanage graduates toward life and community.


PO Box 30671
Indianapolis, IN 46230