–Snowdrop Ultra 55. 12/30/2015
I am often reminded just how fragile life is. The first child I ran for, Bo Johnson, passed away from AML a month before I was able to meet him. I honored his beautiful life by running the Door County Fall 50, wearing orange, through his hometown of Sister Bay. I have run for kids that beat cancer and return to healthy lives. I have had to make a difficult phone call to a Mom who lost her child sooner than expected to this ugly disease, asking if I could honor her son by running for him. I have attended a funeral of a 7 year old girl, hugged her Mom, and just shook my head in disbelief…wondering why I can’t do more. The past three years of my life have been dedicated to raising awareness and funds to fight pediatric cancer. Snowdrop Foundation WI has brought in over $100k in that three year time span…yet it doesn’t help Lily’s Mom one bit when she has to bury her child.
This year was very personal. I looked at my own children differently. Unlike the 40 plus kids I have met who are fighting cancer my own kids are healthy and full of life. They have no fear of the future. Snowdrop provides some incredible benefits to the kids I have met, yet I feel I can always do more. I SHOULD always be doing more. I look at the fight in these kid’s faces. Their determination to overcome and reclaim their life, and I am inspired. I don’t want to see them fearing their next scan results, worrying about the next six months constantly.
I often get asked, why do you get up at 2 am and run a marathon on Friday morning and then go to work? Aren’t you tired? When do you sleep? Well, do you think Jacob gets tired when he has to go through chemo for the fourth time? Do you think, at four years old, he enjoys getting spinal taps and poison dumped into his body? Not to be crass, but who gives a crap if I am tired. Don’t get me wrong, my alarm goes off and I often resist the urge to roll out of bed. Then I think about the kids I am running for, have run for, and those who need Snowdrop’s funds in the future…and there isn’t a damn thing that will stop me from delivering on a promise.
I had a friend who approached me and said, ‘I feel Snowdrop lost its way. It is all about the money’. No shit! It is about the money. Every cent of it! When I attend a funeral of a 7 year old girl whom I previously met and personally delivered Christmas presents to, I feel personally responsible for not doing enough for her. We have kids depending on us to deliver scholarship funds to further their education. Yep. It is about every single cent we can raise. Along the way, we build relationships that are founded in trust, honesty and passion. That is why I know I am in the right place in my life. My passion is front and center. Snowdrop is transparent in every way. What you see is what you get.
As the year progressed, I knew the Snowdrop Ultra 55 hour race was getting closer and closer. I hired a running coach to help me achieve what some would see as a personal goal to reach 200 miles in 55 hours. Every running decision I make is geared towards two things. 1. Raising funds. 2. Running for a particular child to make them feel special. I made a promise. I would not collect any pledge money unless we hit 200 miles. Because of Jacob, the other kids that depend on Snowdrop, and all the support we were given, we delivered on that promise.
Do I really want to run 200 miles? I don’t know the answer to that question. I just did it last week and it hurt…a lot. My feet were numb and bruised, my quads were completely blown out, and I have massive wind burn all over my face. So no, it wasn’t ‘fun’. The Snowdrop WI board and I accomplished something truly special together. We were able to get pledges of $55 per mile that I ran. Every mile, every cent counted. I ran for Jacob, a 4 year old boy who has ALL-B cell. He is currently in remission and thankfully doing fine. His picture, his Angelic smile, and his toughness carried me during the moments when I didn’t think I could do another lap. When I was truly down, Laura showed me a video that Jacob posted on Facebook. He was cheering ME on! I sobbed uncontrollably. Later, with 15 miles to go, I received another message. Cole, a family friend, was running laps at the local YMCA until I finished the 200 mile goal. Again, I cried. For several laps, I would pass the kids pictures on the course. As I passed, I said a quick prayer for them and their families. It is interesting how you set out to honor and give others strength…yet it is their strength that is returned to you!!
The Ultra 55 was a great success for our foundation. We raised over $11k towards research and scholarships. I feel blessed for my health and my family’s health, yet I still feel hollow. I don’t want to attend any more funerals. I don’t want to experience that side of Snowdrop. We can do more. With your help, we will do more. Thank you to all of our supporters. You are all sincerely appreciated and loved by our board. We love the kids we run for. It is an honor we do not take lightly…but it is our mission to someday not have any additional kids to run for. We will continue our work and with your help, end childhood cancer by putting one foot in front of the other.