Summer and Fall will be here before you know it, and I know many of you are making your plans. Here’s hoping you can plan some fun outings with your family, and maybe you can take a little time to plan to do something amazing for yourself, and others, with Team in Training on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
I ran in the The Tinker Bell Half Marathon this past January 29th, and it was well worth all the preparation and time and energy spent. Just seeing one woman at the side of the road holding a sign that said “Lymphoma survivor: Thank you for running!” made it all worthwhile. But there were dozens of these women—and men- with similar signs lining the streets of Anaheim on this chilly January morning.
Young Filipino boy cheerleading squads, hula dancers, high school bands, and military bands played their hearts out early in the morning as we passed by. Thousands of outstretched hands for high-fives as we ran along…all total strangers, but all felt like family. They all cheered us on from the very bottom of their hearts, with unrestrained enthusiasm. “You GOT this!” “Keep Going!” “You’re 25 % through!” “Halfway there!” “Two more turns!” I’ll never forget their faces.
Smiling neighbors living in Anaheim brought flats of water from their homes to give to the runners and gave us their own unique cheers. “Ju kon DO it, ja ja ja!” was my favorite. Pirates inside Disney yelled “Tinker!’ We’d answer “Bell!” Then, “Pixie!” We’d answer “Dust!”
It was a celebration like no other.
The military band and soldiers in fatigues with smiles as big as the moon singing and playing and cheering and giving their all-these are the memories of a lifetime I’ll cherish forever.
So many runners and walkers (men included) were wearing fairy wings on their backs that when we were running as a pack you could actually hear the rustle of wings (and tutu skirts) as we made our way through Disneyland. THAT was special, and unexpected.
And those Disney volunteers knocked us out with their kindness-supplying not only water and guidance, but a genuine encouraging word for everyone who passed….for hours and hours on end. Many had rough voices by the time we ran past, but that didn’t stop them from cheering right down to the soles of their feet.
Best of all, 359 runners participating on behalf of Team In Training raised over a million dollars for blood cancer research! A million dollars that will hopefully provide the next breakthrough in the quest to cure cancer, AND that will be used to improve the quality of life for families living with blood cancers right here in Los Angeles. Now THAT’S worth getting up at 3:15 for!
At about mile 10, a beautiful lady came up beside me and said, “I notice your jersey says you’re running for Team CBS. You wouldn’t happen to work for The WAVE, would you?”
“In fact, I do!” I replied. She turned to me and said, “I lost my mom to Lymphoma several months ago and didn’t know what to do with my grief. Then I heard about Team In Training on The WAVE and decided to give it a try. It’s been so, so helpful in dealing with my loss, and is for sure one of the best decisions I’ve ever made to be here today.” We shared a hug and took a photo, and her story is one that truly touched my heart. Thank you, Annette, for finding me and sharing a bit about your journey.
Hundreds of volunteers manned the water stations with huge grins and pep talks, and hundreds more were charged with the clean up after the race. If you were ever wondering where all the good people in America are, they’re right here in our midst, doing the small but extremely meaningful duties that add up to a whole lot of majesty.
The Red Hat Ladies, a group of dozens of fabulous seniors decked out from head to toe in gaudy red outfits and outrageous scarlet hats were there before the sun came up to set up their lawn chairs. They stole our hearts completely, and it was a tearfest all around as they rallied the sleepy runners and walkers to “Do this! We know you can!”
I just wrote way more than I was going to-but as you can see, it was quite a day.
Thought of you so many times during the race, dear WAVE Family, as one does when you’re pushing yourself. You think of those you love the most and you go a little faster.
The best t-shirts of the day bore the words of Tinker Bell herself:
“Think of the happiest things;
It’s just like having wings.”
Eat my pixie dust.”
You, too, can be a part of something extraordinary by joining going to www.teamintraining.org and signing up for one of the many fun events coming up, like the Nike Women’s Marathon or Half Marathon, or The Disneyland Half Marathon–which is sold out to the public, but TNT can get you in!
Call 310-342-5800 today to reserve your spot, and go to www.teamintraining.org to find out how you can get from the couch to the finish line.
You will never, ever regret your decision to have the time of your life making new friends while making a difference.