Although I had been running for some 37 years before taken on the challenge of a half-marathon, I felt invigorated back in 2005 as I trained for my first 13.1-mile trek.
Along the way something inspirational happened.
In October 2005 I visited Orlando to run in the Race for the Taste 10K. On Friday when I went to get my race pack I found out that on that Saturday, the day before the 10K, a 5K being held in Disney’s Animal Kingdom; it was the Central Florida Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure 5K.
The race offered some “carrots” for me…the primary one being the opportunity to contribute to the fight against Breast Cancer…and running through Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the opportunity to have a nice warm-up run the day before the big race seemed pretty cool too.
On the morning of the Komen race I was moved more emotionally than I would have ever imagined. I found myself in a sea of pink, surrounded by survivors as well as those who had lost loved ones to this terrible demon Cancer.
As I lined up with everyone to start the race I could not help noticing the messages on the back of some of the shirts, “I will always love you Mom” or “To Sis, I miss you…this is for you.”
There were several men running in the race, one in particular who was a breast cancer survivor who had run in all 50 states. I had no idea men could contract this disease.
I ran the race and afterwards ran into some cast member friends who told me this was the only race they run all year…to “help the fight.”
I was overwhelmed by the emotions around me…so many people with so many stories. I was touched.
Later on that day I was in Epcot and while sitting outside the American Adventure pavilion I was approached by a middle-aged man who held out his hand and said, “Thank you!”
I was puzzled. “Excuse me? I said.
“I noticed your Komen medal.”
I had forgotten I was wearing my Komen Medal.
He continued, “I want to thank you for helping us. My wife is dealing with breast cancer and your kind gesture today to run in the race makes us realize we are not alone.”
Wow…this amazing day continued to bring strong emotions.
His wife came from out of the gift shop, say her husband talking to me, and before she could introduce herself to me, she burst into tears and hugged me and said “Thank you! Thank you so much!” We talked a bit and I did all that I could to keep from falling apart.
The emotions that this couple displayed gave me such a strong understanding of what these people must go through that I knew it would have an impact on me.
But the icing on the cake came while strolling through France in World Showcase. It’s a known fact that I am a huge Belle fan and I actually had a favorite Belle who I visited in Epcot whenever I was in World Showcase.
On this day she when she saw me she gave me a nod and said, “Hello again!” She saw my medal and while still in character she held it in her hand, paused for a few seconds, looked at me and said, “Thank you.”
I had the immediate sense that she or someone in her family had also been touched by the dark hand of Cancer and was, while still in character, letting me know how grateful she was.
I was sold.
The following year I took a step to not only to run in the race but to also be a fundraiser. I ended up finishing second to only the race director and was called up onstage. I could not speak; I was completely overwhelmed…and wondered what more I could do.
Here I am five years later surrounded by my AllEars family…that’s right…my family.
It’s wonderful to see Team AllEars do so much for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.
It was emotional last year to see my dear friend Deb Wills put herself through so much to train and finish her WDW half marathon…then to do the DL half marathon later in the year to capture the coast to coast medal. No one knows more than Deb herself, how difficult and arduous her training was…there’s something deep in this lady that many do not know…it’s called courage…and she displayed that badge of courage very well.
It was thrilling to see the expression on Stephanie Mathias’ face this year as she came around the corner in the EPCOT parking lot to finish her first 5K race. I was worried, until I saw that big smile of hers. As I type these words I can feel myself tearing up again as I remember that amazing moment with the rest of the team cheering her on.
It was heartwarming to see many of the people on Team AllEars, like Evelyn DeLuccia, Holly Aulen, and Eric Bouchet to do it all with a smile and show so much zest for life as they raise funds for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.
And it’s inspirational to see my Team AllEars Co-Captain, Michelle Scribner-MacLean run both a 5K and then the next day, run the half-marathon, even though she had a stress fracture because, as she explains, “It was the right thing to do.”
There were so many other stories for this year’s WDW 2010 Marathon weekend that I wish I could do them all justice…but in many cases the experience of seeing them take place convinced me that there are no words to properly describe them.
I do know one thing for sure…after spending time with the members of Team AllEars it is all too clear that this is no longer a team but a family…a family who fights…fights side by side to someday defeat enemy #1…Breast Cancer.
The previous post in this blog was Getting Started: Setting Goals.
The next post in this blog is To Preview or Not To Preview a Race Course.