I was so excited when I was invited to join a running relay team this past Saturday. I don’t think I was so thrilled when they told me it started at midnight, but what the heck. I am still young, right?
55 miles. That seems kind of far when you are running the entire distance all in one day. Okay, it wouldn’t just SEEM far… it is far. Fortunately, I wasn’t asked to do an ultra marathon. I’m crazy, but not that crazy (yet). There were runners out there crazy enough to do the entire 55 miles. Not only was it 55 miles, but it was 11 5-mile loops. Yes, they were running in circles (11 times). Oh, and lets not forget to mention that they had to run over 2 bridges and up one incline EACH time they ran the 5-mile loop.
I think these runners kept going on and on for 8 hours, 9 hours, 10 hours, 11 hours (however long it took) because they knew that they were running for a cause. They were raising money for Wolfson Children’s Hospital. They were running 55 miles because each mile represented a child who had needed (or still needs) treatment for some type of cancer or other illness. Imagine being a parent and finding out that your child has cancer. Not only would you be concerned about your child’s life, but you would also be concerned about how you were going to fight this cancer if you have very little money. Thanks to people, like these crazy runners, these families are provided with a little bit more hope.
Well, some of us just don’t have the physical capacity to run 55 miles so we could help out by becoming part of a team and splitting up the miles. That sounded good to me and I was just happy to be a part of this special event. We were team Bubba Burger because Bubba Burger so kindly provided support (funding) for this event in honor of Matthew. Matthew was pretty much our team mascot (and so much more). He kept us going and helped us to remember why we were out there in the first place. You see, at 15 months old, Matthew was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a condition that can impair brain and nervous system functions. Then, just two years ago, Matthew needed hip surgery. They said it would take up to 6 months for him to be able to walk, but the determined young man was walking within 2 months!
Now Matthew is a running machine. I know this firsthand because I was lucky enough to run a 5-mile loop with him and his coach. He has such a positive attitude and willingly accepts challenges without complaint. Matthew kept talking about how he was planning to run more miles that day. He even refused to sleep when he wasn’t running! What an amazing young man!
Matthew wasn’t the only hero running the relay out there that day. Frank, Elizabeth’s father, was also supporting his team: Elizabeth is stronger than A.L.L. of us! Frank was even brave enough to sport a tutu and a crown. He finished strong for his relay team and ran the last 500 yards with his 3 beautiful children in tow. Elizabeth was enjoying the after party (princess-style) like it was any other day.
Even though I didn’t run an ultra marathon, I felt like I had really accomplished something that day. It felt great to be a part of something bigger than myself and I know that there are ongoing positive changes in how I perceive the world. Most importantly, my own 3 daughters see this and I hope that they will experience it too.
You might not run ultra marathons (or even run a mile), but you can help children and adults with leukemia or lymphoma by donating a few dollars to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: http://pages.teamintraining.org/ncfl/madrid12/haponte