We made it to the House!

  • This was printed in October of 2014 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 72nd installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

I’m worn-out as I start my run at 5:45 a.m. Sunday. It’s my fourth and final leg of a 135-

mile relay that began at the Ronald McDonald House in Bakersfield at noon on Saturday.

I haven’t slept in nearly 24 hours, and I’ve run 23 miles of the relay so far — 16 in pitch-

black darkness on lonely country roads overnight.

My teammate Bobby Kearney gives me a high five as he completes a weary 8-mile leg,

the last three miles with a bloody nose, and hops back into the van. I start my GPS watch

and scamper off into the darkness of Golden State Boulevard in reflective gear and only a

small LED light to guide me.

I run through the entirety of Fowler, cross over to the west side of State Route 99 on

Adams Avenue and then head north on Clovis Avenue, crossing the 99 again as I head

toward Fresno.

With burning pain radiating from the bottom of my foot — where I developed a silver

dollar-sized blister about 19 miles ago — I begin to feel sorry for myself.

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I’m sore, tired, a little cranky, and now, as I feel sprinkles of water landing on my arms,

I’m about to get wet. Really? We’ve prayed for rain for months and it’s going to come

now?

Then I remember why I agreed to run this relay — and I want to slap the whiny voice

inside my head for being so selfish.

The event, 135 To The House, raises funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities,

which provides meals and warm beds to families whose children are being treated in

nearby hospitals.

Runners hold fundraisers for RMH prior to the event and create a lot of awareness during

the run through social media. Eight relay teams of four to eight people — and five

ultramarathoners who were running solo — embarked on the journey to the RMH in

Madera, near Children’s Hospital.

I remember that the point of all of this was to help RMH provide more beds, more meals

and more comfort to families with sick kids.

I think of the kids who have lost their hair enduring grueling chemotherapy treatments,

and the ones who have been severely injured and whose lives are hanging by a thread. I

think of all the children I’ve met and written about during my years as a journalist, the

ones diagnosed with the toughest conditions, the cruelest diseases and the rarest cancers.

I think of their families who not only deal with the overwhelming pain of watching their

child suffer — and the tremendous fear of losing them — but also worry about the

insurmountable debt racked up from medical bills and travel expenses.

Every parent I have ever talked to who has had a sick or injured child has told me the

same thing: “I wish I could take his (or her) place. I wish it was me suffering.”

I begin to cry as I realize that there are children and families who are in pain physically

and emotionally every day, and I’m over here upset about a blister, fatigued legs and lack

of sleep. My day of pain is nothing compared to the pain they live with.

I wish with all my heart that I could take their pain away and endure their suffering for

them, just as if they were my own children. But all I can do at the moment is run, so

that’s what I do.

I run through the downpour of rain, through the sunrise, and through south Fresno until

my teammates finally tell me to stop. Every step hurts, but with every step I imagine that

a hospitalized child or a parent is hurting just a tiny bit less.

I’m grateful to be able to run, and it’s a blessing to be able to help someone else by doing

what I love to do.

Donate to the Central Valley Ronald McDonald House securely at

http://www.fundraise.com/135tothehouse.

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