|Sara Celi, contributing author
to “Chicken Soup for the Soul”
Sometimes, life gives you an experience that’s so inspirational and memorable, that – like a dream – you need to write it down immediately before it slips away.
There are those that keep their stories in a tattered notebook or hidden computer file. Then, there are those that end up printed in the latest addition to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series.
This latter scenario is the fortunate truth of Cincinnati native, Sara Celi. “I have always loved to write,” she explains. “It’s in my blood.” Celi’s nonstop storytelling and journaling in high school went hand in hand with her four and half year stay as a reporter at Fox19.
In September 2011, Celi moved to Oklahoma City to anchor the 9p.m. evening show on Freedom43 while also reporting for KFOR and regularly filling in for other shows.
“I really enjoy the people here in Oklahoma,” says Celi. “Like the folks in Cincinnati, they are resilient, strong, and hard-working.” While Celi misses her friends, family, Skyline Chili and Cincinnati sports, she still gets back to the area at least once a month to visit family and friends.
Just a couple months after Celi made the move to Oklahoma City, she found herself at the Tulsa Route 66 Marathon Relay. While questioning her participation in the cold and misty November air, another runner, Jeff Ortega, caught Celi’s attention. She noticed that he looked hurt and offered him words of encouragement.
When Ortega responded with a less than hopeful answer, the conversation continued as Ortega explained how sharp pain ripped through one of his legs with each step. The conversation soon advanced past the formalities and on to why they were both there.
Celi soon found out that Ortega was running in memory of his son who died just two weeks before after falling off the balcony of a home in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.
Ortega and his son shared a love for running, and quitting was not an option. Celi spent the last two miles of the race laughing, crying and encouraging Ortega as he shared memories of his son.
By the time they got to the finish line, the emotions were high with tears from both Celi and Ortega, when Ortega wanted Celi to meet his family and friends that were there to support him.
“Jeff’s perseverance and strength was extraordinary to me,” says Celi. In order to not forget the experience or the lessons she took away from it, Celi wrote the story down.
“I didn’t plan to do anything with it, but then saw an ‘all call’ for ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ submissions on Twitter in the winter,” says Celi. “I thought, why not? So I sent it!”
While Celi has always loved the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and was eager to share her story, she was elated that when editors from the series contacted her for more information.
Now, a couple rounds of editing later, her story can be found in the newest book in the series, released on October 23, “Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive.”
To learn more, or to put in your order, visit www.chickensoup.com.