When I arrived in Memphis for the St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon this weekend I was out to prove a point to myself (and my friend, Tom, who bet me a steak dinner). But the folks there had this crazy idea that I was running it for them.
The people from St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital welcomed us and many of the families lined the streets with the names and pictures of their sick sons and daughters. The family and friends of a little boy named Jake were everywhere. He was an adorable little boy with blonde hair and an engaging smile. Judging from the signs, Jake lost his battle with some terrible illness, but his family has faith that St. Jude's can save the next one.
At about mile 5, a man stood by himself with a simple white poster board cheering the runners on saying, "My daughter is alive because of you!" Several of us looked at each other and agreed that would keep us going. One woman near me said: "How can you run with tears in your eyes?"
I didn't do any particular fundraising for the hospital. I just paid my entry fee for a chance to say "I did it." But this weekend taught me a lot about overcoming obstacles and about what this hospital means to the families who depend on its care. And I learned that running really is a lot easier when it's not just about me.
This race is about proving the seemingly impossible can be achieved. That applies to me finishing the 13.1 miles - here's the medal for proof -- and even feeling pretty good when it was done more than two hours later. But more its about Jake, Stephen, Ethan, Emma Grace, and that man's daughter who is alive today.