We all come full circle…
I was in my first year out of college in 1996, working as a bartender and was just hired as a network tech for a financial company on the telecommunications side. I knew nothing about the job I would end up doing for four years, but I learned from the ground up and was shortly moved into a new position created for me that would be an integral piece to all the projects that would come out of our company. It wasn’t a passion, just a paycheck.
Right before I was hired, I gathered with some friends and decided to head to Philly one Sunday morning in April to walk in the 3k for organ donation. I was 22 years old and I just happened to be sick. I had one of my many horrific sore throats and fevers and terrible headaches. It never failed… every spring I would get it. And just in time for this walk to raise money for organ donation awareness, I got it again. As with anything when you are sick, I debated just staying home. But I went… and walked and walking as a sport was even foreign to me. And walked. What felt like forever, feeling awful. I remember, I went home afterwards and went to bed.
I just showed up. But I wasn’t a runner. I did it for a good cause…and to be with my friends. I have no clue how long it really took us. I had no fancy watches or apps or water belt or running shoes. I wore sweats and the same sneakers I wore to work for dress down Fridays and some random college t-shirt I am sure.
Mom’s donation wasn’t for just saving one life, but to save many.
And then my mom faced struggles shortly after. I was 28 when she was diagnosed with Cotrico Basal Degeneration. The disease that would atrophy her brain cells and take her away from us slowly and painfully. I played golf and softball and racquetball. No running of any kind of distance to speak of in any of that. If I ever am running on a golf course it’s because I saw lightning or a bird is chasing me from its nest in the same tree my ball landed in.
Mom died in December of 2013. In her desire to give to others, even in her death, she was adamant about donating her brain to science and research. She wanted nothing more than for her brain to help save others from going through what she had to. Mom’s donation wasn’t for just saving one life, but to save many.
This past Sunday was the 20th anniversary of the Gift of Life Donor Dash in Philly. Same course, same start, same name. I was asked by a dear friend who happens to work for Gift of Life to come early to help set up for the race before we ran it. 10 of us loaded up in cars and headed to Philly at 4am. We volunteered and set up, had some laughs and shared our love for being together for a good cause.
There were three options that day. The 3k walk, the 5k run and the 10k run. And 20 years later, I chose the 10k run. While the friends may have been different, I still was surrounded by them and the event, the cause and the route were all the same.
The thing that was undeniably different was me. From the one who struggled to walk the 3k at the age of 22, albeit sick, to the one who ran the 10k with only small walking moments, I feel like a different person.
And as I approached the finish line I can tell you I had a tear in my eyes. Partly because I ran that day for my mom and the selfless gift she gave the world. For her desire to make her life meaningful and her death not in vain. And another tear partly because I was once a kid who didn’t think I could. And crossing that finish line was just another reason for me to know I can.
We all come full circle.
And I showed up because I am a runner. And I did it for a good cause…and to be with my friends.