Team we are at the finish line! I am so excited to announce we have reached our goal!!! In 3 days I get to run my dream race in honor and in memory of some wonderful people!
Did I ever tell you why NY is my dream race?
When I was a little and growing up in a small rural town I was a pudgy kid with thick glasses,that was also a little weird, and I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was “that kid”, the one that did not fit into one particular niche group. I was “that kid” that got picked on left and right, because I wasn’t girly enough to hang out with most girls, and I wasn’t tough enough to run with the boys. I was “that kid” whose favorite TV shows were Star Trek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Unsolved Mysteries. I was “that kid” who played basketball and softball, and I was never good at either one of those sports. I just loved playing sports. I spent most of my childhood and teenage years being singled out and being made fun of. I did however have an awesome family that made me feel loved. I thought I, at least, I had that perfect family that everyone wanted.
I have a lot of aunts, my Dad has two sisters, my Mom has three sisters. My Mom’s sister Ella Ruth was THE aunt. She was was the fun aunt and the aunt that got into trouble the most. She was a math and science teacher most of her life, at one time she even taught at the same high school as my Mom. She was a kind and good person, but sometimes made bad decisions. When my Mom talks about my Aunt, it’s like she’s talking about a best friend that she could not keep up with. As a kid, I never knew that my Aunt was ever in trouble, in my eyes she was super cool, she did nothing wrong, ever. What made her the coolest, was when she brought me back her Delta wings from her first flight ever to New York City! She went to the Big Apple and told me all about it! She told me about how in New York, there were lots of different people: one had a Mohawk, one had green hair, some went to plays. There were libraries on every corner, and no one made fun of little girls with glasses there (okay I think she exaggerated that part). She told me there were buildings taller than our mountains and there was so much to do and see. I remember asking, “So no one would make fun of me there?” My Aunt looked at me and with her big bright smile and told me “No, sweetie, no one would make fun of you there, no one should make fun of you…no matter where you are. One day no one will because you are so special.” I asked my Aunt Ella Ruth before she left my house that evening, ” Can we go there, can we go to New York City when I get older?” My Aunt with her dark curly hair and perfectly painted finger nails took my little hand and said ” Absolutely! When you get older, we will go to New York City. We can even ride the Subway train.” From that moment on, my mantra was, “One day I will leave this stupid town. One day I will go to New York and one day I will fit in. One day it will all be better.”
Unfortunately, we never made it. I grew up, my parents got divorced, which when you live in the Bible belt only earns you more whispered stares in the hallway. I didn’t have a normal family anymore. My Aunt and Mom grew apart; their lives went in separate directions. My aunt never had kids while my Mom was suddenly divorced and raising two kids.
None the less, my dream of one day going to New York with my Aunt never really faded away, it was always in the back of my mind. I thought, things will change one day and things will be better and then we can go. I graduated high school andI went to college on the other end of the state. College led me to be happy with myself, and for the first time in my life I fit in. I had not one, but several good friends. I was not weird for being a nerd! Life was good. Though I missed being close to my family.
Now Aunt Ella Ruth smoked cigarettes for as long as I can remember. Ella Ruth was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was in my late 20s, right after I had graduated from college. I went home a few times to see my Aunt. My Aunt went through chemotherapy, she lost all her curly brown hair, but she finally quit smoking. I was too shy to tell her, that I really wished she would get better, so she could maybe use this as restart button for life. A second chance to do things right and better. I hoped and I prayed that she would beat it, and she kept up the fight for a long while. She died on March 29th, 2009. I still miss her. I still miss how she made me feel loved and special, and I still miss her laugh.
I didn’t cry when I got the phone call that she passed away, I couldn’t. I went for a run instead. I had just gotten into running long distances; I had done my first marathon that past October in Columbus in 2008. A few weeks before my Aunt died I signed up for The 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I think on that run that day I was just angry, this was not fair, she was just 51 years old, not really even old, only old people died of cancer, right? I knew my own answer: No.
We buried my Aunt and I went on a personal crusade to get a job in research, I wanted to do anything I could to beat this disease….to beat the cancer that robbed me, that robbed my Aunt from her new start. That’s why I was thrilled I got a job at our University clinical trial office. I am still there and I’m still working hard every day. It’s not an easy job, and I’ve met several patients along the way that have inspired me to live life to the fullest. I miss some of those patients too. I may not know them like a family member, but I still get attached and I still miss them.
Lots of runners dream of running Boston, the Holy Grale of running, if you run Boston, you know that you are an awesome runner. It was never like that for me….New York is my Holy Grale, it is THE MARATHON for me. I’ve never ran fast enough to qualify for it, but that never stopped me from entering the lottery…and this year, on March 26th I got the email that said “you’re IN.” I’m FINALLY going to New York City! I’m going to run through the city and love every minute of it. I hope my Aunt Ella Ruth will cheer me on from her front row seat in heaven. I loved her so much and I miss her…just like all of you still miss your loved ones.
This is why I decided to fundraise, not just for my Aunt, but for everyone that says “I still miss them”. I want to help Stand Up to Cancer and put an end to this.
As we have gone on this journey, I want to give special thanks to all my donors! you have given funding to an organization that has one goal, and that is to fund research to end cancer. You have helped them out, and you have given my race day more meaning than I could imagine. Thank you. #Istillmissthem #SU2C