I signed Ri and I up for a 5K run/walk in support of research to cure Batten Disease. One of Ri’s friends has a twin brother and sister who are both battling the disease. The twins attended nearly all of the girls’ soccer games this Fall so a bunch of parents and girls signed up in support of the family.
Ri was not excited about the event at all. I told her about a week in advance and nearly every night, she’d confirm “we don’t have to run the entire race, do we?” She still has PTSD from the Girls on the Run 5K where she nearly keeled over in exhaustion from running so long and hard. She is just not into running for running’s sake. And I’ve accepted it … for the most part….
But as much as Ri dislikes running, she adores helping people. And I knew she’d go along with me to the race without a huge cry because she knew we were helping out her friend’s sister and brother. She has a monstrous heart.
We arrived to lots of other girlfriends playing at Audubon Park and moms and dads registering for the race. Ri ran over to talk to her girlfriends while I signed us up. It was uplifting to see so many Grandview moms and dads with their kids coming out to support the cause. I can’t remember who the guest was on Krista Tippett’s show “On Being” but the guest opined that we all want to feel connected. That gives us purpose and joy. I thought of that guest’s words as I stood with my group of girlfriends and stretched my not-quite-awake-yet legs and watched Ri laugh with her friends. Others smiled at me as they walked to the start of the race. I saw Ri help a little boy off the bars. Connection.
They had the siblings of the children inflicted with Batten Disease countdown for the start of the race. We stood together waiting to take off. And 3-2-1…we were off. Ri and a few girlfriends ran in front of me talking and smiling together. I was excited to see the girls running and laughing and I yelled “You got this girls!” Within a few seconds of my shout, I witnessed Ri stumble and fall to the gravel path. Blood, cuts, tears.
I moved her over to the grass and sat down with her. She had a scraped knee and torn-up arm. Blood slowly oozed out. I could tell she was both shocked at the quick fall and stinging from the gravel cuts. I held her head into my chest. Slowly, I got her back up and told her we should walk it off and see how we felt after a bit. She was hesitant at first asking if she’d have to run. I told her we could walk the entire way and turn back if she hurt too much.
We walked up to the bike path. She looked over at me and then at her friend, Evelyn.
“Let’s try to run to the telephone pole ahead and then we will stop and walk a bit.” Evelyn agreed. And so we ran to the pole. Then walked. We caught up with other friends and walked with them. And ran. And before we knew it, we were at the finish line and all the girls formed a circle to talk. Some ran hard, others jogged with parents, others ran and walked and others simply walked and talked. No judgment, no pressure.
I was so proud of Ri for plugging away to finish the race. I knew she was uncomfortable and the cuts stung. But she forced her mind to think of something else – friends, curing the disease, finding water, getting Mark Pi sesame chicken for lunch….whatever. She is one amazingly tough mama chica.
After the race, you could buy raffle tickets for the numerous gift baskets on the tables. I let Ri buy $5 worth of tickets. She gave me one ticket and she took four. She put them all in one canister for a wildlife basket. It had a bear hat, stuffed animal, zoo passes and gift cards to a pizzeria in it. All she wanted was the bear hat.
We left before they drew names of the winners. They never called the rest of the day so Ri and I figured someone else won. On Monday, however, I received a call from one of the sponsors that Maria had won the wildlife basket. It was as though I’d been told we won 1 million dollars. I couldn’t wait to tell her that she had won. And for a few minutes after that call, I basked in the glory of that daughter of mine – her strength, her courage, her positivity, and her luck!