Well it's been over 4 months since my last post....mainly because during that time I was training for the most difficult accomplishment of my life: running the NYC marathon. For those 18 weeks of training, running every day, eating so healthy it would've made a Vegan jealous, and completely changing my lifestyle, I was so excited to run that race. Sadly, as everyone knows, Hurricane Sandy ran a muck of the NY and New Jersey area. While I was extremely grateful that I no longer lived up there (Hoboken was completely flooded for 2 weeks), I was very saddened by the devastation that took place up there. Millions lost power, thousands lost homes, and hundreds of people lost their lives. It's still hard to imagine how powerful that storm was. In the midst of all the tragedy, I was beyond upset that Mayor Bloomberg was still going to allow the NYC marathon to be ran. I sat at home Friday morning (November 2nd) with my brother, who was going up with me for the race, and I had 5 very dear friends from Jersey reach out to me. One by one, they all gave me an idea of "how bad it really was" up there, despite what the media was showing on TV. As I listened to everything they said, one phone call convinced me that deciding not to run was the right thing to do. My old boss, Tom Lunsmann called early that morning to ask me what my plans were. At the time, I had planned to still drive up and run the marathon.....besides I had logged over 700 miles of running in 18 weeks....
Tom had this to say to me: "Dude, you cannot come up here and run. You have no idea how bad it really is up here. They're still finding bodies over in Staten Island (where the first several miles of the race begins at). Hundreds of families have lost everything they have......how are you going to have a smile on your face and run by them. This isn't what you've been training for. This isn't the way you want to experience the NYC Marathon. What you're doing is very inspiring to a lot of people, but what's going on up here will take that away from you."
I took some time that morning to really think hard about my decision. After all, I had been all over the news in the Roanoke area because of what I was doing. Hundreds of people came out to the TEAM FOX fundraiser that myself and Erika Hayden put on. We raised over $5,500 dollars for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. The entire Parkinson's community in Roanoke showed me tons of support for what I was going to accomplish. At our last support group meeting, many of them came up to me with the biggest smile on their face, happy that I was going to show the world that even though I was 29, living with Parkinson's, I could still do something that I was told I could never do.
For the first time in my life, I really felt like I was going to do something that would prove to myself, my fellow PD'ers, doctors, and all my supporters that just because I don't have the same abilities or body function that I used to before my diagnosis.........I still had my heart.
As painful as it was for me, that Friday, at 1:22pm, I posted an email and message, stating that I had chosen not to participate in the marathon. It just didn't seem right. With everything that was going on up in New York, my heart told me that running was the wrong thing to do.
The next week, I would field dozens and dozens of phone calls, many emails, and lots of sorrow from all those that supported me during my training. All were saddened about the marathon being cancelled. I gave them all the same response...."hey, there's always next year."
I had dreamed for months about the feeling of crossing that finish line.....thousands cheering on...how emotional it was going to be.....night after night I couldn't sleep. And now, I don't have that experience....I don't have a medal....I didn't get to hear Michael J. Fox speak at our Team dinner....I didn't get to party with the 170 fellow TEAM FOX marathon runners....I didn't get to proudly wear my TEAM FOX jersey and run for the Parkinson's Community.....
But.....you know what......I still have my heart.....I still have a smile on my face.....and like I told everyone...."hey, I get to do this all over again next year!"
Always Keep Smiling