There are times in our lives which stand out as picture’s in our memory. Some of them silly like the time I received my very first pay raise from work. It was .35 cents and boy - was I rich. Or more meaningful pictures like the time I asked my girlfriend to marry me. It was in my car and even though I knew she’d say “yes”, my hand was still shaking when I took out the ring.
Ah yes, those were the days. Just like I can tell you the exact day I decided to continue to raise money for people who really need it. People who were trying to survive. To live. To continue living their lives just to stay with their families. People, just like you and me, who are only looking for a chance to live.
It was hot. Very hot! As hot as it usually is on any August day. I had just finished running one of my fastest 5K races down at Robert Moses State Park. The sun scorched me the entire way and I believe I may have lost five pounds just in that one race. But I still waited at the finish line for my wife and daughter to cross. So, as I came out of the locker room, I was fortunate enough to steal a corner of a bench while waiting for the ladies.
Until I saw her standing there - staring at me.
She couldn’t have been more than six. I only say that because when you raise four girls of your own, you just know certain things. She was so frail and fragile like a doll in a china store hanging off the shelf ready to fall. Her long blond hair breezing in the wind as she held her mother's hand. These soft blue eyes just kept staring at me and I couldn’t help but stare back. I kept looking away but every time I looked back, there she was again. Then suddenly, she slowly let go of her mother's hand and began walking towards me. Her mother had her back to her as this little angel came walking my way. She stopped and paused, and then pointing she said - “What’s that”, pointing at my chest. “What this”, I said as I held out my shirt. “Yes! What does that mean”???
I just couldn’t comprehend the importance of why this little thing was asking me such a bizarre question. So, shaking my head I simply said, “Why these symbols here mean I run to help fight cancer”. “You mean you run for those who can’t”, she replied. Puzzled? I simply said “Why yes”. Then I explained that “this symbol here means I run for people who have Leukemia/Lymphoma. Do you understand?” She stood quietly in front of me, not saying a word which seemed to last for eternity. Just then her mother, noticing her little girl was not holding her hand, turned to look for her by shouting out her name. Then, this little sweet blond haired,blue eyed girl, who couldn’t have weighed more than 50 pounds, turned back and looked at me and said in her soft voice – “I have Leukemia”.
Pictures in our minds. They are little snap shots of time standing still. I can’t help but think of that little girl from time to time. Just closing my eyes puts me right back on the beach that day. Why did she come to me? Did she really want to know about the shirt? Or did she know about the shirt and just wanted to make sure I knew about it?
“I’ll never stop running”.
I’ll never stop running until one day – somehow - I find out that that little girl is well again.
So, for now, I’ll just keep taking it - Step by Step.