I was so excited that I had such a hard time sleeping the night before the Stop Cancer 5k/10k race. I was wide-awake at 5 a.m. with no hope of sleeping even one more minute. I had my outfit all laid out including the special shirts that Kirk had order for us. The bib with my number was already in place and I was ready to take on the world. After all, I had been waiting a long time for this event and with the added inspiration of the list of names that we were honoring perfectly printed on the back of my shirt, I could do anything.
Kirk, his sister, Judy and I arrived at the park shortly after 7 a.m. and were informed by our event announcer, Jim Castillo, from our local WB station, KTLA, that there 1,500 of us there on this gorgeous day. As I looked around, I was amazed at the young children that were participating. Families with strollers and lot of dogs could be seen everywhere. And in no time, Honorary Master of Ceremonies, Sharon Stone, took the stage to remind us why we there.
First called to the starting gate were those like Kirk who were participating in the 10k event. As I watched everyone lining up, I felt a major shift in my feelings as the excitement quickly turned to reflection. I knew how hard Kirk had trained to be able to run this 10k race. I couldn’t even begin to imagine doing something like that myself, even with the motivation that we all had to raise funds and support cancer research in our local area. As they got under way, I found my mood continuing to become more and more sober as though the real reason that we were there seemed to finally be sinking in.
As Judy and I then joined the 5k group, the thoughts switched to those that we were honoring in this endeavor. Since we were walking, in no time after we got underway, our conversation quickly turned to a discussion about some rather serious topics including major medical events that had occurred in our lives and how we dealt with them. We talked about the limitations that any physical ailment places on us and how it affects those around us. But, the most important conclusion that dominated our thinking was that unless you have personally experienced a particular disease such as cancer, you have no idea with what a person has to deal and how it affects them in so many ways.
By the time that we finished our tour around the course, we were both rather tired but I don’t think that the physical toll was the only thing that played a part in our experiences. As we met Kirk at the finish line (yes, he finished 10k in less time than it took us to do the 5k), a certain sadness had seemed to have descended on all of us that I couldn’t begin to describe. We wandered around as awards were given to the top performers and those who had raised the most money and then Vanna White began to pull numbers for those who had won the raffle prizes contributed to the event and then we headed to the car.
It has now taken a bit of time for me to figure out why we may have all felt the way that we did. I know that for Judy and I, this is the first time that we participated in such an event whereby we gave more to the cause than just some money. We gave of ourselves physically and mentally for the first time ever. Kirk had been to this rodeo before but we had not and suddenly it became very clear as to why he had pushed himself to train again and do better than he had done the first time. It was because he could. It is at a time like this when a person challenges himself/herself because they are just so grateful that they are physically able to do so. I remembered all the times when Kirk had said during tough training and injuries that he was able to continue by just thinking about a child who was undergoing chemo at that very moment. And suddenly, everything was back in its proper perspective and I knew that I would do this again.
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.