I have to share a story with you. One of my very best friends, since FOREVER, started running a little over a year ago. She is someone you never would have thought of as an athlete. Most of her previous fitness had come from dancing in clubs in NYC while working for the music industry. Punk rock and parties were more her thing. But, at a certain point, something inside her called for more. She ended up going back to school to get a masters degree in social work, and the big heart that we all knew she had was dedicated to a life making life better for other people. She is a very selfless person, very generous and giving, and to know her is to love her. She lived in the East Village in 2001, and was on site providing crisis management support after the World Trade Center came down. Her birthday is September 12, but rather than celebrating, (who could?) she was passing out water, meeting with first responders, and providing emotional support.
Fast forward to now. She’s a director of volunteer services for a hospice organization, and a loving mother and wife, who is a strong advocate for maintaining the role of the self in all women do – be a mom, but be yourself first, so you can be a strong, powerful role model for your children. Teach your girls to be strong, and your boys to be respectful. She is amazing. This whole “be present in yourself” approach she has to life is one of the reasons she started running. She wanted to be fit and healthy for her children, and be a good role model for healthy lifestyle choices for the two rambunctious boys that could easily get overwhelmed with negative messages in today’s screen based world. She tells a story of her oldest son finding a picture of her, before she started running.
He said “Mommy, you look so different here!” and my heart dropped. What would he say? What would he observe about the image of me, heavier, less active? “Well, it’s different because this was before you got so fit!” My heart breathed a sigh of relief. I had conveyed the proper message – running for fitness, and eating for health. Not weight loss or body image.
Within a year, my friend went from being a non-athlete to running 5k races, to doing a 1/2 marathon at Disneyworld, to doing more and more 1/2 marathons. The idea struck her – why not, having been a New Yorker for so long, throw her name in the hat for the NYC Marathon? And on her first try, she was picked from the lottery to run – her first marathon ever would be the NYC marathon.
She spent the last 6 months in training, including the taper over the last two weeks. She’s been *itching* to run. But then, tragedy struck, as we well know. Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast from Cuba and Haiti all the way north to Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey, and yes, New York. The NYC Marathon was scheduled to leave from Staten Island and wind its way through the five boroughs of the city tomorrow morning, yet today they are still pulling dead bodies from flooded houses. It’s a heartbreaking scene of devastation and misery. The city debated continuing the marathon, saying it would be an act of “healing” for the city – but not this soon. Smarter people took charge and made the decision to cancel.
My friend Carolyn was glad for this. She saw the devastation, and knew that it would not be the ideal first marathon she had dreamed of running. The cancellation came yesterday afternoon – less than 48 hours before the run was scheduled. Carolyn decided to run anyway, in her current hometown of Danbury, CT. A few friends started saying they’d donate to relief efforts in her name if she did it, and suddenly, an idea was born.
Carolyn, 5k into her 26.2 miles to direct donations to hurricane relief.
In less than 12 hours, we built a facebook page for her run, at https://www.facebook.com/CarolynRunsForNyc, with links to organizations helping with the relief effort. We are encouraging people to “cheer” Carolyn on by donating directly to a relief organization in her name. You can follow the page for updates, or follow me as I post her updates on Twitter, using the hashtags #run4nyc and #carolynruns.
Carolyn is on the road right now, doing her solo marathon through the Danbury region. I think she put it best when she said, before her run:
Ok – I’m heading out shortly….Please know…this is not about a cheering section for me…this is a cheering section for the relief efforts, and those who are working tirelessly to rebuild their homes and their lives.
At a time when there is so much sniping and political game playing, this intentional use of a personal milestone to direct attention to the needs of others is amazing, selfless and reflective of the Carolyn that I have known and loved forever. If you are in the Danbury area, give her a shout out if you see her run by. Everyone should swing by the facebook page and pledge a donation, and go to any organization that is helping with the relief efforts, and donate now.