On Sunday I did a 5 Mile Race in Central Park. It was for Achilles International.
I first learned about Achilles, when my brother decided to run a race with them a couple years ago. My brother is an amputee who lost his leg to cancer in 2003. There was a time when I didn't know if he would ever walk let alone RUN again. But he did not let the cancer define him, he did not stop being the active, inspiring man he always was. He has since inspired many people in my family to start running, including me. It feels sort of lame not being active, when your brother who is an amputee is out running races - talk about motivation.
On Sunday, while my brother was running the race for his 3rd time, my sister & I volunteered to help out another participant. Did you know that blind people run races? Did you know that 5 year old kids with prosthetic legs run races? Did you know that people who have no muscle use in their legs can run races by using their arms in special carts?
We helped a girl who is 23 and has a disease that causes her muscles to deteriorate. She has to be in a motorized wheelchair everyday of her life. She was able to do the race by sitting in a special chair that operates by her pumping the wheels with her arms - it's called a Hand-cycle. She has to pump the wheels to get up all the hills, but then can zoom down the hills as fast as the wheels will go. She gets to fly - she speeds past all of the runners as she goes down the hills - & is free as a bird.
We helped guide her up the hills & encouraged her all the way. She never gave up, even when the hills were long & the pace was slow from her tired arms. She kept going & going & going. Every time runners would pass by they would cheer her on & shout out her name.
We finally made it to the finish line & there were hundreds of people waiting. Runners who had finished, people off the street who came to watch, family & friends supporting their runners - all there at the finish cheering & clapping, pushing us to keep going & to cross the finish line. It was an unforgettable moment. The emotion I felt was overwhelming - seeing this young woman give all she can to keep going, seeing how supportive people can be - like we are all in this together, was truly incredible. It was humanity at its finest: Selfless, encouraging, full of love, and this girl so full of strength... in a word it was Beautiful.
How can I be inactive, when some people would do ANYTHING to have a fully working body? How can I complain about trivial problems when I have SO much going for me in my life? How can I go one day without thanking God for my health?
Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I forget how blessed I am to have my health. My own brother needs a prosthetic leg to walk & I still forget. I forget how much he endures, because he has so much strength & so much appreciation for his life. He doesn't sit on the sidelines & say "poor me". He doesn't complain. He doesn't stop living his life.
He & many others like him..live life with hope & without limitations.