My sister Crystal wrote this after the race last Saturday to share the experience with her supervisor. I wanted to share it with you, as she grabbed the essence of the event. Hugs to all of you, Candy
“Race for the Cure 2005”
Ugh, it was rainy and muggy. My knees and left hip were hurting. . It was Saturday. I lay in bed thinking “I’ll call Sam Gross and tell her to go the “Race for the Cure 2005” without me.” A little thought kept nudging at my heart…Sometimes we must do what is hard and uncomfortable to do what is best. Was staying in bed the best thing for me to do? Uh...No. So, one hour and three pain relievers later, I am meeting Katie Wheeldon in front of Sam’s house.
In the poring rain, Sam struggles to see the road in front of her making her way downtown, with Katie trying valiantly to stay right behind us. I’m thinking…”I’m walking in this rain??” I look at Sam and wonder if she is thinking the same thing…and in her conversation she mentions, “We ran in the rain last year for this race.” Well, there was my answer.
Finding a place to park without paying was impossible, (thank goodness for spare change in the ashtray) so we parked in the nearest garage. We met up with co-workers and our NLS-OHIO Race for the Cure 2005 team members, Adrian Hoover, Kevin Grimes, Sam Williams and some others.
The runners went first (bye bye Adrian and Kevin) and then the walkers. We were in the last part of the walkers, furthest back. What a sight!! Coming over the crest right after the start line you could see thousands of people, filling an entire downtown street for as far as the eye could see.
The Columbus Dispatch said there were 26,000+ people in the race. Big people, little people, young people, old people, thin people, chubby people...and people of all nationalities and color. Dogs, strollers, wheelchairs, walkers and canes. Bands, balloons, onlookers and cheerleaders along the side of the road are sprinkled all through the walk.
Big steps, little steps, fast pace, snail pace, a little rain and sometimes more rain…did not impede any in the race. Smiling faces, laughing, people walking and dancing as they passed by one of the bands. You could see the traditional white shirts of the race and many creative, colorful shirts from various organizational sponsors. One that caught my eye was a brown shirt, with pink silhouettes pf people walking in the shape of the “Pink Ribbon” for breast cancer…it was very cool.
One the back of the shirts was a sheet of paper with our race numbers safety pinned as our ticket to run. Another sheet also pinned was pink…on these sheets of paper were the names in memory of people who have lost the battle with breast cancer and passed, and also names for celebration of those who are fighting the battle now or who are survivors.
Some included pictures. One company: Too, Inc. had an 8 x 11 pink page full of names.
As you walked behind someone, and as you read their ‘sheets”, you got a small glimpse of pain, sorrow, joy and victory. Some had several names on their sheets in memory of Grandma and Mom, and celebration of aunts, sisters, and daughters…..Several generations of the same family. I counted the names on the sheet of one woman; there were 6 in one family crossing over four generations. I cried when I saw that one.
There was another prominent color of shirts…they were a light pink. As you looked over the crowd you saw hundreds of them. The women wearing them are the ones fighting the battle and the survivors of this insidious disease. Many of them also wore pink hats. I will tell you; this disease has no shame, is not picky and strikes women of all ages and color. I saw one fairly elderly woman, walking with the help of a friend….one breast clearly gone. Another, very young woman waling with her husband and small child, hair gone, covered by a pink hat. Another, whose hair was gone, had a young adolescent son, whose head was shaved, holding his mother’s hand, unashamedly for the entire race. I cried when I saw all of them. There were many, many, just like these…and you had a sense of oneness, camaraderie, and victory. These women were the ones laughing, smiling, waving, dancing, and encouraging others to press on.
There were some on podiums with microphones and as you walked by you could hear parts of their stories and the thankfulness they felt for all of us who were participating in the race. Their faces beaming with joy and hope. This disease may invade, maim and sometimes kill the body, but it was clear by these brave women and their family and friends, that it will not destroy the soul, spirit or the fight.
On my back was a pink slip of celebration of my sister Candy, who is a survivor. (She was in the 1 mile fun race with her grandchildren and family.) I could have added several friends that have lost the battle. On the back of Sam Williams shirt, was a memory of her Mom, who she lost in high school after a 4 ½ year battle with the disease. We walked with one in a pink shirt, a survivor…and all of her adult children. She told me part of her story as we walked. It is the same story my sister shares with others. It is a story of hope, solidarity and victory.
It is an experience I will never forget, and it will not stop this year. I will walk every year as long as God gives me the ability to do so. I will encourage everyone I know to do the same.
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel.