Friday, November 29, 2013

A Trip Through Memory Lane...

"I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past." 

― Virginia Woolf

I was reading through some of my blogs recently. Even though it's still a new organization, there is nostalgia. My April 3rd blog was about the rapid growth of I Run 4 (IR4). We had hit 500 members and 50 matches. I remember feeling elated. Seven months later we hit 10,000 members and 3,100 matches! But I'm not here to talk about the growth, per se, I want to talk about a fraction of our awesome members.

 Let’s start with the amazing Nicholas Jones. I remember when I first heard about this amazing little boy. His mom and dad, Josh and Yvonne, were posting status updates about him. He was diagnosed with Alexander's disease. As Josh put it "it's like all the wiring in his brain lacked coating and kept shorting out." At one point, the doctors said all they could do was make him comfortable until he passes. Miraculously, the next day he seemed to snap out of it, the many prayers had been answered. Nick was a fighter. 

On February 2nd, several months later, this little fighter went home to be with Jesus. He is the reason I created the Remembrance Group. Yvonne Jones is now the Executive Director of that group and both she and Josh are IR4 Board members.

Natalie was the thirteenth runner to join IR4. She had been paired with the wonderful Zoe, daughter of Heather Redington. On the surface, Natalie looks just like any other loving mother and wife. Her profile picture is with her husband and two children, all acting silly (it truly is an adorable picture). But life for her hasn't always been blissful.

Eleven years ago, Natalie was married to Drew Laird, a highly motivated individual - an avid runner who became a Blackhawk helicopter pilot at the age of twenty-two. When Drew was twenty-three, two major things happened in his life - he and Natalie became first-time parents with the birth of their son Caeden. Secondly, he was deployed to Iraq for 18 months.

When Drew returned home from his deployment, he shared with Natalie that he wished to become one of the military's elite - he wanted to become a Navy SEAL. His self-training became very intense - he began "training and running and swimming even harder than he ever had before."

On May, 19th 2008, he ran his first marathon - the Colfax Marathon. When he crossed the finish line, Natalie was there to cheer him on. By her own admission, she "had little motivation so instead I would cheer him on!" 

They were pregnant with their second son, Ethan, and  decided to take Memorial weekend to visit a nearby National Cemetery to honor fallen heroes. 
They discussed what would happen if Drew should pass away. "He reminded me gently that he loved Jesus and he would be in heaven with the Lord, so I would need to do whatever helped me here."

The following day it was business as usual. Drew was at the local training center training on his own for a 50-meter underwater swim without oxygen. "It is called Shallowater blackout," according to the Coroner. "He had been holding his breath for too long and would not even have felt lightheaded. On May 27th, 2008, he went to be with Jesus at age twenty-five.

Two years later, Natalie started running the race set before her. She had started training for her first marathon - the first marathon Drew had run - the Colfax. "So with many tears, I ran the Colfax Marathon with my sister, three years after Drew died." 

During her training, God had another surprise for her. She had met a wonderful man, Matt. The two are now happily married. As for Natalie, she has completed two marathons since - one being the Rock and Roll Marathon in Denver.

To keep this blog from becoming a novel, I will end with Amanda Sullivan. Amanda has been through some pretty rough times. First she was stopped in her vehicle and hit by a car at full speed because the driver was texting and speeding - crushing her face, shattering her skull, and causing several brain injuries. Then six weeks later she was walking on the walkway to PT when a driver mistakenly put his car in reverse and pressed the accelerator and slammed into Amanda, causing many debilitating injuries - including cracking her skull again. She spent the next year in a bed.

Amanda, despite the fact fate dealt her an awful hand, has become the epitome of inspiration. I for one am truly inspired by her and her boyfriend, Todd. Watch this video!

This is just a tiny fraction of the inspiration inside the confines of IR4. Everyday our buddies fight - never give up. We are so blessed to read the stories after stories of true heroes - our buddies! So who do YOU run for?