Brain Tumor Warrior
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I have lived my life, and then something changed. A schoolmate was killed in Afghanistan. I didn't realize his death saved mine. The young man I remembered playing pass with the last home varsity baseball game my senior year in high school. The vision of his blue eyes reminded me of why he is my first motivator.
“When you run for one of mine, you have to give it your all”
How my first half marathon became a signature series of running 2500 miles in one year. When I completed my first half marathon the questions of why I am alive, and what did I do to deserve one more day? There was one answer worthy of an attempt. I called it “Heroes On The Road To A Marathon.”
The mission has a name but the difficulty didn't reveal itself to me until the many training miles, the heroes, and injury defined the essence of who I aspire to be. My first nickname is “Nobody Important.” I became what they call a shadow warrior. The one who runs in someone else's shadow so the light reveals the true meaning of my being here. I truly needed motivation to attempt the task before me. What more did I need? The first motivator should be enough.
Then at my thirty five year class reunion the man who handed me a phone number at our high school graduation sat with me for dinner. The number was the head scout of a general manager for the St. Louis Cardinals. His father called me, “The greatest unknown prospect he ever saw.”
My friend who became my second motivator suffers from what they call PTSD. He is the real deal. I call him, “The Wind.”
My second marathon was in his Honor. The medal upon my chest was one of the first fifty ever made, and three of them are worn by Admirals. The son of an Admiral handed the medal to a friend I know today. He handed his medal to me for one race to honor his brothers, and allow me to Honor my classmate. The second marathon was my fastest and I never stopped running. The muscle fatigue, the muscle cramps, and soreness taking its toll. I never stopped running.
Then injury happens and the pain sidelined me. My mission is in jeopardy. I worked through it all and marathon number three and number four are the icing on the cake. The Marine Corps Marathon was when the realization I am in something bigger than myself. My tired, aching legs made it to heartbreak hill, the World War Two Iwo Jima Memorial sit atop that hill. United States Marines line the hill to the finish. I sprint the last quarter mile. Mile twenty six of that marathon I completed the mission in a manner fitting a Hero. A tip of the hat, a hand shake, a sprint. I took “The Hill.”
The training continued and a new mission of speed work, weight loss, and a desire to run faster for more Heroes when I made “Mission Complete a reality.” I hung the second marathon medal upon my classmate’s neck and saluted him just as my father taught me.
The running now is what saved me after cancer interrupted my life. The diagnosis a punch to the gut. I wasn't done living but I accepted my fate, I dropped the hurt of life at the side of the road. There is no fear. The surgery, chemotherapy, are now a scar upon my life, but it is a symbol, not a crutch.
I walked the day after surgery, a first for the world renowned surgeon had ever experienced. Nine months and four days later, I returned victorious and overcame the odds.
The marathon I did not start the year before due to seizures brought me back and proves that the diagnosis is never the end. The moments that define who you are and what you will be remembered as come to be. When you find your purpose and the mission changes. I realized there are kids live’s who will never be defined by a start or finish line. They never got the chance. Here are the reasons I run.
A mother gave me words I will never forget.
I wanted to share this with you, I think its important...
The cancer had breached Brianna's spinal cord a few weeks before she passed.
She was no longer able to walk or feel her legs. So you....
Running for her.... means more than you could have ever known!!!”
- Joy Harris
Life is a mission. What you make of it is in your hands.
Thank you God for one more day, one more mission. Welcome to 2018.
April 15, 2018 - “Head For The Cure 5k” Columbus
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September 15, 2018 - “Air Force Marathon”
October 6, 2018 - Chris Hope Foundation Virtual 5k & 10k