Running and Compassion

It goes without saying that when I run I typically run for myself.  I am not out there to please my family or my friends.  I am not out there to get people to like me.  I am not out there to make some kind of point.  I am not out there to make others feel bad about themselves.  I could really care less what anyone else thinks.  I run for me.

Yet, there is always something out there bigger than yourself.  It can drive you to achieve the unimaginable.  Most of you know that I have volunteered with Team and Training on and off since 2006.  I am not even sure why signed up in the first place, but I do know why I am still here running with the team.  A lot has happened since 2006.  My dad had cancer, fought off cancer and came out a survivor.  I gave birth to 2 more beautiful children.  I changed jobs, got a Master’s degree and moved all of the way across the country.  I attended a friend’s memorial service and my grandfather’s funeral.  I ran 3 marathons, 7 half marathons and a handful of shorter races.  Now, in 2012, I am pretty much the same person, but I am better able to adapt and endure.

As a military veteran and currently a military spouse, I have met some amazing people.  Strong and determined men and women who make daily sacrifices for the sake of their country.  As a spouse, I can see it more clearly because I know firsthand the sacrifices that the families must make so that their loved ones can keep this country strong.  Yet, when I joined Team and Training, I met a different group of people.  They were different, but the same in some ways… strong and determined and willing to make similar sacrifices.

Just the other day I was talking to one of my other teammates.  She was telling me her story.  When her firstborn was only 9 months old she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancerous tumor that occurs in 1 in every 100,000 children.  Really, what are the chances?  Everything is okay now, but it was a rough journey for her and her husband.  I CAN NOT even imagine.  Really, I can’t.  All I could say was that she must be one strong woman.  She told me that is what everyone says, but she acted like she didn’t believe it.  There is no doubt in my mind that anyone coming out of that situation will come out of it a much stronger person.  My mother’s death CAN NOT even compare, but I know that I came out a stronger person… maybe a little rough around the edges, but deep down, slightly more compassionate.

I could spend hours writing about all of the amazing people I have met during this journey.  I think they have helped me view the world a little differently.  I will mention Elizabeth.  I don’t know much about Elizabeth yet, but I do know that she is an amazing little girl.  On May 13, 2010 she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  She is currently in the maintenance phase of chemotherapy and has a little less than a year left of treatment.  Her family has stated that they would not have been able to get through this without Elizabeth’s positive determination.  She is just a little girl keeping her family in high spirits!  Her father, mother, brother and sister also posses the strength to move forward.  If you would like to hear more of their story, please check out the family blog:  http://www.princesselizabethann.blogspot.com/

Not only am I so fortunate to meet these amazing people, but I have been blessed with the ability to help them in a small way.  I can run.  Now I know I said that I typically run for myself, but a part of me can’t help but run for others… for those who need me to run for them.  I think it is that little bit of compassion that is inside of me.  As time continues, I hope that more and more of that compassion will pour out.  I hope to set an example to others, especially my own kids.  Yes, I do make mistakes… often, but I hope the old saying really is true: “the older you get, the wiser you get.”

So, tomorrow night, at midnight, we will begin our ultramarathon relay.  I know that Elizabeth will be waiting for us at the end (many many hours later) and that is why I will run.  And there are many other children who need someone to run for them.  So I will keep running… till my legs fall off.

I hope that some of my readers can understand why I run.  I will admit the self-fulfillment, but there is a bigger picture.  It gives more purpose to my running.  It gives more purpose to life.  In doing so, I am opening my own children’s eyes to the world around them.  I can’t go to my grave until I know they have true compassion for others.  I want them to surpass my own ability for compassion.

I know that not all of you run, but you can still help children like Elizabeth.  Elizabeth’s family has stated how much the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has helped them through this challenge.  Please donate a few dollars to this cause.  I guarantee that it will be greatly appreciated.  http://pages.teamintraining.org/ncfl/madrid12/haponte

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