Back in early December, some bad news reached me, news that shook me more than I realized it would. The news gave me pause, dimming the flame of passion for a pastime I'd participated in for the last 10 years: Motorcycling. My motorcycles took me all over the country, through every state in our United States, brought me to hundreds of our great national parks and through our mountains, our plains, and our great deserts.
For the next couple of weeks this news weighed heavily on me. Still in shock, I had a dream, one which I wrote about in my blog entry back in December. This dream and a long run I took a couple of mornings later told me what I needed to do. It resulted in my setting up a fundraiser in Mid-December to help the husband and wife who were the subjects of this bad news. My plan? To raise pledges for every one of the miles I'd be running in my next five half-marathons. I had some stickers printed and some coffee mugs made to use as gifts for the donors.
I signed up for a half marathon in Jackson MS in early January and another one, in Baton Rouge LA later that month. I signed up for a half marathon in Birmingham AL in mid-February. And I signed up for a half marathon in Columbia SC in early March and another one in Atlanta GA in mid-March, actually on St. Patrick's Day.
I bought five bandanas, each in a different color and using iron-transfers, customized each bandana with a photo of the couple along with the name and date of the race. My plan? To wear the bandana in the race and then mail it and a photo of the finisher's medal to the couple after the race.
I was blown away by the immediate response I received to my fund-raising. Folks jumped in and donated dollars per mile for not one but for every one of these five races!
Each race day morning, as I tied that bandana around my neck, my thoughts were with my friends. The husband was not only a motorcyclist but an avid runner. I would be running each of those five races for him. Removing the bandana, still damp with sweat, and tucking it into my suitcase after the race was over, I gained another small bit of solace and comfort as one more race was complete, one more run for them. And at the end of each race I had one more chance to e-mail the donors, letting them know that the race was successfully completed and thanking them once more for their generosity.
Putting each of these bandanas along with a small note and a photo or two into the mail at the end of each race, I hoped that I was also sending along my love and a little bit of positive energy to the healing couple.
It was as if each step I took while running those races was one more step forward in their healing process. I clung to the rare and brief, but oh-so-precious reports on their progress, posted occasionally at a blogsite set up specifically to keep us all informed. When news came that the husband had finally been released from the hospital, all of us knew that he'd truly come a long way on his path to recovery.
Then a gathering of motorcyclists from the Long-Distance riding community in mid-March in Flagler Beach FL brought what everyone was hoping for: News that the husband would be joining the group for lunch. Sadly for me, I was in Atlanta getting ready to run the last of these five races in their honor, so I was unable to atttend. The Ride To Eat in Flagler Beach on March 15, a RTE that became so much more: Watch the Video.