Conversations with Patti Dillon


Jasmine McNealy




            Webster’s dictionary defines a conversation as:


2 a (1) : oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas (2) : an instance of such exchange : TALK


Notice the idea of an exchange.  This means that there is more than just the convey of an idea or a thought; there is the receiving of an answer or comment in return.  These exchanges shape perspectives, perceptions and lives.  Such is the case with Road Runners Club of America Hall and Honolulu Marathon Hall of Famer Patti Dillon.


As a youth, Dillon's interactions with adults were less than rewarding.  “I was never hugged as a kid.  I was never told I was loved, I was cared for or anything,” she said.  “So I always thought I was insignificant, or it just didn’t matter what I did or what I said or anything.  I just always wanted to know, ‘Why am I here?’ Nobody loves me.”


In fact, although Dillon had what she called a regular teenage existence, “I had the usual teen angst,” she said, it wasn’t until she took a job as a nurse’s aid that she got something that she had been missing.


“I think working as a nurses aid helped me a lot because I didn’t give my first hug to anybody until I was 16.  It was an elderly woman.  From then on I learned that the more you give, the more of you there is to give.  It was different, meaning, I grew up quiet.  For me to extend myself like that was something.”


But her feelings of self-discontent continued for a few more years until Dillon made a decision.  “It wasn’t until I was about 23 that I decided I was going to do something, that I was going to change, that I was going to find out really about me, that I was going to find out what I like and what I didn’t like, and really what was so good about me and what was so bad about me,” she said.


“I did, and one of the things I wanted to do was to lose weight and I did that.  One of the ways I did that was through exercise.  I started swimming and I started riding a bike and I started running.  Running I like the most.”


Dillon believes her discovery of running to be a blessing.  “The act of running was something I gave myself a chance at.  It was a feeling, a sense of accomplishment that nobody could do it for me, nobody could take it away from me, and it didn’t matter how long I ran, because I always felt the same.  I always felt great.  So one thing led to another, and I started running races.  But I wasn’t with the Lord then.”


In fact, although she went to a Catholic school, and therefore attended church everyday, she did not really know God.  “ I didn’t have a personal relationship with the Lord because I didn’t know that you could.”


But this changed six years ago.  “It wasn’t until I was an adult that I was saved.  And that I realized that you can have a personal relationship with Christ, and that all of your answers are in the Bible.  You just have to go find it and read the Bible.”


But it wasn’t another adult leading Dillon to this epiphany, or her picking up the Word by her self.  It was an event with her children that changed her life. 


“I didn’t know how much I was speaking about the Lord to my children,” she said, speaking about her then three-year-old son and four-month-old daughter.  “I was taking them into the woods all the time and talking about God, and what God made and that the earth was beautiful because I really wanted them to love the world and to love people, and to really have a good handle on stuff, and that I love them and that daddy loved them.”


One day while running with the children, her son began to cry.  “I said, ‘What is it Aaron?’ and he said, ‘I’m so sorry.’”  Like any parent, thoughts that he injured himself or that something was wrong with her daughter ran through her head.  “I go, ‘Aaron! Aaron! What is it?’ and he says, “I’m so sorry He died on the cross for my sins.’”


After getting over the initial shock from hearing this from a three-year-old, Dillon and her husband began reading the Bible to find out more to teach her children.  This study of the Bible led to her being born again, and having a more intimate relationship with God.


“Knowing what I know now, I always had this one way conversation because I didn’t have the Bible, I didn’t read, I didn’t let him speak to me, I was doing all the talking.  It wasn’t until about six years ago, when I became saved, that I understood that it was good to have a two-way conversation.”


After all is said and done, Dillon has come a long way both in her running and her walk with Christ.


“It was quite a journey, even thought I’ve been asked, how could the Lord help me if I wasn’t saved,” she said.  “The Lord knows your heart, and I kept knocking on many doors and I never stopped until I was answered.  The answer was the Lord, and I found Him, or He found me.”


For others facing trials that come with life, Dillon gives this advice. “I’m not saying that since I’ve been saved that things are easier, but things are better.  I still struggle with everyday stuff, like everybody does, but its better, because I know I have the Lord on my side.  I ask Him, I have an ongoing conversation with Him all the time.  Once you understand that you can establish your personal relationship with the Lord, things are better.”

            “So hang in there, but take that leap of faith and your whole world changes.”