I have been " back home” since July, but honestly have been in Arkansas like and hour, and I still haven't made it to Texas. Florida is quickly becoming home, but to say it was nice to do something that seemed like “back home,” was nice. Jennifer and I ran St. Jude marathon my junior year of college, and it has hands down been my favorite race since. I do have to admit I started running St. Jude just for a close flat race, but it has turned into so much more.
The Thursday/Friday before the race everyone goes to the expo to pick up their packet, donate their last money, and have an opportunity to buy some St. Jude merchandise along with all the other things that are at an expo. The expo is very uplifting and starts preparing your mind for the emotional roller coaster that it will take during the race.
The St. Jude marathon weekend is so much more than a marathon. It is a awakening of something bigger, a way of putting life in perspective, and a reality check to what really matters. Supporters, family members, patients, ex-patients, doctors, nurses, and everyone else are lined on the course to cheer you on and thank every runner for raising money for the cause.
They are holding signs like,
“Because you run, I am here. I AM A SURVIVOR ”
“Our family thanks for your running.”
“If you think this is hard, try chemo.”
“No family ever pays for anything while going to St. Jude, travel, food, medical expenses, because the only thing they should think about is life.”
“No child should die in the dawn of their life.”
“My angel thanks you" (with a picture of their child who did not live)
You get the point. You can’t run this race without crying at some point.
When you run through St. Jude campus the patients, faculty, staff, and parents come and cheer you on. Mom gave one patient her hero shirt (a shirt you get for raising money). She told the kid, "you are the true hero".....….(yeah insert tears from mom, and the patient’s parents.) The kid was so excited though and gave mom and hug and thanked her.
The atmosphere during the race is just nothing that can be faked. Everyone is grateful, encouraging, and hopeful. At every crossing everyone says thank you to the cop who is stopping traffic, which is then met with a return, It’s for the kids.
(Click to watch video St. Jude made)
There was one lady at the Target house this year who had a picture of who I assume was her child and her sign said, “my family thanks you.” I walked this year with mom, so we were at the back of the line. That poor mom holding the sign had tears rolling down her face. I hope she didn’t cry the whole race, or maybe they were tears of joy because her child is doing better, or maybe tears of hope and joy that their family can concentrate on their child instead of the money burden that so many families have to feel. As we walked by her, I just said a prayer in my mind that God wrap His comforting arms around her.
Now, the whole race isn’t an emotion roller coaster, there is also bands, belly dancers, singers, Elvis sightings, a road that has a huge street party, a dance crew that Mom joined for a bit, and many opportunities to drink, “champaign for pain,” Or “Beer for carbs.”
The atmosphere in the whole downtown area in the entire weekend is amazing. Everyone is there for such a great cause and realizes that there is so much more, you can’t get a more true meaning of Christmas to get you in the spirit. A nurse at St. Jude told me the Marathon Weekend is their biggest fundraiser all year. This race should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you can’t run, cheer on. If you can give financially, give. It takes 2 million a day to make the hospital run, and no family ever sees a bill.
I didn't get to raise like I would have loved to this year, if you still want to donate, there is still time! CLICK HERE