Thursday, May 30, 2013

The One Where I Ask For Your Support

In a few short days, weeks, or months (depending on how ambitious I am) a letter from me is probably going to show up in your mailbox or inbox. The letter is probably going to be filled with a lot of facts and statistics about blood cancers, and the people they affect. It's probably going to contain the story of someone who has had to fight for his life against one of these cancers. And it is definitely going to ask you to consider donating money to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in support of my participation in the Nike Women's Marathon with Team in Training. When you receive it, I sincerely hope that you will take the time to read it, and consider donating to this extremely worthwhile cause.

However, today I want to talk about something else. I want to ask you to consider making a donation in support of this organization for a very different, and extremely personal, reason. And again, I hope you will take the time to read what I am about to write, and consider supporting me.

Growing up I was a dork. I was tall and skinny and awkward, without an ounce of coordination.  Gym class was my worst nightmare.  I never participated in team sports, never played little league.  I considered it a good day if I made it down a flight of stairs without tripping.  My body, in all its awkwardness, was something that I saw as separate from myself.  It let me down.  It embarrassed me.  It and I - we weren't friends.  I hated it, and thought it hated me.

Until the day I found running.

All of a sudden, my too long, too skinny, too awkward legs were actually good at something.  Imagine that.

Even though I had finally found something athletic that my uncoordinated body could do, and do well, I still shied away from actively doing it. Every year I thought about trying out for the track team. Every year I chickened out. By then I had already built up too many fears of failing at physical activities and had too many preconceived ideas about my capabilities and my limitations that I wasn't able to overcome.

So I sat on the sidelines and watch one of my best friends race, while I longingly looked on.

It wasn't until the day in January 2006, when I was sitting in the Team in Training information meeting, that I FINALLY found the guts to attempt to overcome my fears and put my capabilities to the test.  I signed up to fundraise for LLS through TNT and to run the Indianapolis Half Marathon, and my life has never been the same since.

Let me repeat that... my life has never been the same since.

During the months that I trained for my half marathon, my body and I forged a truce. I forgave it for past grievances and it showed me that it didn't really hate me. No matter how hard I pushed it while training, it never let me down. It never embarrassed me. And all of a sudden I started to see it, and myself, in a whole new light. Instead of looking at something physical and instantly thinking, "I could never do that!" I started to wonder if I could.  I started to think that if I had been wrong about my athletic abilities, then maybe I was wrong about some of my other self-imposed limitations, too.

Crossing the finish line of the Indianapolis Half Marathon was literally the proudest moment of my life. Training for that race was the hardest thing I have ever done, and finishing it is my greatest accomplishment.  That race medal is one of my most prized possessions.  The entire experience taught me not to sell myself short, not to decide I can't do something before I try it, and that I am capable of more than I ever imagined possible. It gave me the self-confidence and self-worth to walk off that race track and meet life head on.  Somewhere along the path to finishing that race, I lost the paralyzing fear of failure that had dictated so much of my life before it.

So here I am, asking you to support me by supporting something that matters a great deal to me.  I am asking you to consider making a donation to an organization that not only gives a ton to the patients it is designed to help, but also to the people who volunteer to participate in it.   I owe the most rewarding and life altering experience of my life to The Lymphoma and Leukemia Society and Team in Training, for without them I would still be the same awkward, gangly kid afraid of trying new things, taking on new challenges, and testing my limits.  And, quite frankly, that is something that is impossible to repay, but with your help perhaps I can try.

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