Monday, September 21, 2009
A Pile of Cash, Some Bald Kids, and a Medal
Thank You! You did it.
The Walkathon raised over $50,000. And you made something extra special happen. Because of your very generous response, Von raised over $3,000, more than any other team at this very large event.
He was called to the front to be recognized for it and he thought this was his cue to unpack his bag full of money andhand it over. He eagerly kept pulling dollar bills by the handfulls out of his bag and shoving them in the Director's hands while bills were being blown around in the wind. It was fun to watch Von get the concept of giving back and taking so much delight in it.
The starting line looked curiously like my high school prom decorations.
Von got to walk with Olivia, who is battling the same kind of Cancer he has and is just a few months behind him in treatment protocol.
Michelle, Lacey, Angel and Deanna raised their own funds on Von's behalf without ever having met him. Amazing people!
Vienna poured her heart into the fun run. (I like to think she gets her legs from her dad.)
Elle was still going strong at the finish line and could have run a few more laps.
And Sofie ran with the grace and the strides of a gazelle. She also beat a boy, I might add.
The the most significant part of the day for me personally was seeing Von run in the fun run for the 4 and 5 year olds.
I thought the little kids were running fifty yards to the orange cones as the finish line. The kids took off and I could see Von hobbling with his shoulders tucked and his elbows thrust out side to side trying to keep up. Because the drugs have affected his legs, he has to wear braces and...well...I just couldn't wait for him cross the orange cones not too far from the start line and be done with it.
As the kids kept running past the orange cones, it dawned on me that Von was going to have to run the entire way around this half-mile lap. I saw kid after kid passing him and as each one did, he would look over his left shoulder and watch the person pass. I knew he would never make it.
As a dad, I wished I could run for him and then without realizing it found my feet moving in a mad sprint to catch up with him before he got discouraged and turned back. I saw him ahead, still getting passed and slowing each time he saw someone overtake.
I caught up to him and pulled up on his left in silence. He looked over to see who was passing him, almost at a walk now, and then raised a tired and discouraged face.
His eyes met mine and a smile of recognition exploded on his face. And he said something profound that made me feel like a million dollars. He just said, "Dad!".
We ran together, me encouraging him and him throwing is elbows out in a renewed effort to go fast. I even had him dangle from my hand as I jogged and helped him get caught up to the group.
He crossed the finish line pretty spent from the long run but got a participants medal. You could say I'm a proud dad.
Why was that the highlight of my day? It made me think of this past year and the many who have given generously, have come alongside our family, who have prayed, extended grace, communicated, and cheered us on. It made me think that we, like Von, sometimes needed to be carried a little...and you were there.