Monday, May 26, 2014

A Run to Remember and a Day We Remember - Making a Difference in Each Other's Lives

My breath caught when I walked into the Boston's Run to Remember Race Expo and saw this:

The 2014 Boston Marathon has come and gone as has the anniversary of 4/15/13 but we are still healing as individuals and as a community. It's important to honor that we can still be taken by surprise by emotions or dreams that come up as we continue to heal.

There was also a memorial wall giving honor and tribute to those Massachusetts law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Taking time to remember and honor memories helps us to heal and move forward in our lives.

I was delighted to be part of support crew for the Run to Remember as part of L Street Running Club. I wish there could have been time lapse photography for the set up and break down of the water stop. It was a dance choreographed by those who had done the water stop in years past.

The truck is unloaded. The tables are set up. Gatorade is prepared:

Cups are set out on the table:

and someone comes behind to fill them with water.

With cardboard in between the layers, we start the process all over again until they are stacked and ready for the runners to come through:

There is a sense of joy and playfulness until there is the crush of runners coming through. We work together as some pass the cups and others (like myself) work to move cups for easy access for the volunteers to hand out the water and to make sure we have an ample supply of filled cups.

In between the 5 milers and the half marathoners, we had a break after there was a flurry of feverish activity to rake up cups and trash and get the empty gallons of water sorted into boxes, put back on the truck for recycling. Mac, our former Club President decided it was a great time for a group photo op. The lead runner of the half marathon preceded by the police escort was coming through at that moment. He had a significant lead so we quickly gathered and right after the photo was taken, the second place runner came through:

As the crowd of runners was waning, I saw Justin O'Connell coming down Arlington Street. Tom, Ruth Anne and I screamed to cheer him along. It was obvious he was hurting. He was with Jess Lanzoni who runs with Back On My Feet Boston and who I had the pleasure of meeting Friday evening at my Book Release Party. She was encouraging and supporting him saying, "Okay let's run again," and they'd run a short distance together. That evening on Facebook Justin mentioned that he was ready to quit at mile 8 but Jess helped to get him to the finish. The running community has always had a runner's code of supporting each other. Since 4/15/13, there is a palpable and powerful feeling of #weruntogether #werunasone. Justin lives with metal rods in his back from surgery to correct scoliosis. He finished this year's Boston Marathon and his motto is that he runs for those who can't. While Jess provided him with the encouragement and support to get him to the finish, I could see Justin digging deep to get himself to the finish.

It was a moment I will remember for a long time to come; a testament of leaving no one behind and the code of honor that is also an integral part of the code of honor among our nation's soldiers.

Today is a day we remember those who serve and those who served.

It is easy to forget about those who face life long challenges after the memory of war or most recently 4/15/13 fades into the background of history. I was blessed to serve those who served as a social worker at the VA for 19 years. I know the challenges they face every day yet I also know there are wonderful people out there to lend a hand, a heart, time, talent and money to help those who need healing of mind, body and Spirit.

Just like Jess' gesture yesterday to help Justin to the finish line or a team of crazy L Streeter's orchestrating a water stop to support those running in the Run to Remember, it doesn't take much to make a difference in the lives of others.

There are many opportunities to show your support and honor those who serve and served every day. Take time to remember ... and find a way to make a difference.

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