So, here’s the deal.
I will walk in St. Jude’s 5K race the first weekend in December. Actually, the marathon is St. Jude’s premier event, but for me finishing the 3.2 mile course is like finishing the Iron Man.
That’s because eight years ago this month, I underwent serious surgery to repair an odd condition that caused bones in my cervical (neck) vertebrae to grow into my spinal cord. Recovery was difficult and long; I could not walk the length of one block and I couldn’t run. I climbed stairs like a toddler, one step at a time.
Back then, I had promised my 8-year-old daughter that after the surgery and as soon as it snowed, we’d go cross country skiing together. It took me two years to fulfill that promise.
I’ve had a lot of ‘firsts’ again since then and I’ve use them to count my progress: First time swimming a lap; first time around the block; first time on ice skates; first time on a horse.
So two years ago, I registered for the 5K that would run concurrently with the marathon my oldest daughter was running. It was my first 5K – ever.
I know for many of you this is silly; you could run 3 miles in mere minutes with barely breaking a sweat. But for me, that ridiculously short distance was one of my most memorable accomplishments. And I did it in the top half of the pack, leaving hundreds of women — some decades younger than I — in the dust!
I could have been a quadraplegic lying in a rehab center; at least that’s what my doctor told me when my whining during an appointment must have pushed him past endurance. That gentle rebuke was actually an act of kindness because it reminds me still to be grateful every day for the simple fact that I am still able to put one foot in front of the other to get from point A to point B.
This condition, though, doesn’t go away. The latest MRI showed seven areas along my entire spine where these rogue bone spurs may be sprouting their way into the spinal canal again. In a not so subtle hint, my doctor encouraged me to make Hajj soon while I still can.
So why am I telling you all this and why St. Jude’s 5K when there are so many worthy races in the Chicago area?
The St. Jude’s marathon event is stellar; and its purpose is just as lofty — to raise money to support the only pediatric cancer research center that does not turn families away for their inability to pay. And for me, my personal accomplishment would be hollow if I didn’t also use it to help others. We are stewards of one another and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital provides vital care to critically ill children.
Please help me help St. Jude continue its mission of conducting research that one day, God-willing, will eradicate cancer. Your donation will go a long way in helping this research center bring life-saving treatments to the tender patients in their care. Your donations could help a child grow up to realize her own aspirations and make her own memorable achievements.
Thank you for your generosity.