Originally written May 26th, 2013.
My husband Jason and I ran the Twilight 10K this evening as part of the Madison Marathon weekend. My legs were tired from being on them all day at the expo, but rarely do we get the opportunity to run a race together through our city. And so, we did.
At mile two, the route took us by the University of Wisconsin Hospital. As we ran by, we saw a med flight chopper leaving from the rooftop – never a good sign. Instantly, it brought us back to when our youngest daughter Allison, at just six weeks old, was brought to this very same hospital, via her own med flight plane. For Jason and I, that experience can seem surreal because Allison, thankfully and miraculously, is now a healthy, happy almost three year-old. But as a parent, you never forget those days and nights in the hospital – desperate for good news, fiercely watching over your child and ignoring the doctors who patiently try to prepare you with percentages and likelihoods of her recovery.
And as the chopper flew over us, Jason and I both looked at each other. No words needed to be said – they were simply felt.
In that moment, we came upon a team of runners pushing their ‘Captain’ in a sleek special racing apparatus. It was a crew of ‘Angels’ (these are the folks guiding the race equipment) from myTeam Triumph, a non-profit athletic ride-along program created for those with disabilities to enjoy endurance sports that so many of us take for granted. I recognized one of the Angels – she was a Fellow Flower whom I had just talked with the day prior. We quickly exchanged hugs and smiles.
We saw three more myTeam Triumph teams during our run, cheering and high-fiving all of them along the way. My step got a little bit quicker. My heart, a little fuller. My purpose, a little clearer.
When we got home this evening, I quietly snuck into Allison’s room to watch her sleep. And I cried…harder than I have in awhile…tears of complete gratitude for the precious gift of her health. For the simple things, and for the big things. I thought about how lucky we are that she beat the percentages and likelihoods. And after tonight’s race, I thought about how if those percentages wouldn’t have been on our side, that Jason and I would likely be pushing her as our ‘Captain’ so that she could feel the rush of a finish line…regardless of whatever disability she had.
As I left her room this evening, I thought, maybe the world needs a couple more Angels.
And so, late this evening, with Jason beside me, we officially registered to serve as Angels in an upcoming Wisconsin race this fall with myTeam Triumph. To guide our ‘Captain’ to their finish line…to be part of something bigger than us…to give back…and because we can.
And perhaps, in some small way, to close a chapter of our own.
Update: Mel and Jason are officially running as Angels for the Madison Half Marathon on November 10th! Mel is wearing her /pink/ flower for a journey and purpose much ‘bigger than her and Jason.’ Learn more about myTeam Triumph here.