St Jude Road Warriors
For 15 years, we’ve avoided the St. Jude Marathon. With over 20,000 people running to end childhood cancer, the race clogs the Memphis streets. More than once my husband and I’ve been trapped by the blocked roads and orange cones, no way out. This morning, of all things, we joined the throngs. Having a friend whose child is battling cancer will do that to you.
I walked because the cancer treatment is affecting the young man’s hips. He will be having surgery Monday in an effort to ward off two full hip replacements. His mother has been keeping us up to date on his (and her) heroic efforts, not only to win against his own cancer but to raise enough money that childhood cancer becomes a thing of the past. His (and her) reaction to this illness has been awe-inspiring. The least I could do was slip on my gloves at 6:00 this morning and willingly drive into a claustrophobic-inducing crowd of people. My husband came with me. “For Adam,” he said.
We walked the race—it’s been less than a year since my first hip replacement, less than 5 months since my second. We got off to a slow start because we put ourselves at the back of the pack. At the very end—finish line in sight—we dug deep, letting loose a burst of speed and effectively lapping the two-year-old who’d been leading the entire race. She was cheating anyway, riding on her dad’s shoulders. I’d been worried we might not finish before they closed the course and then what would we do? But we walked into AutoZone Park in under an hour, giving us half an hour to spare.
Walking through the cheering spectators along the course was nice; it made you feel like you were actually doing something, though I was more impressed with the folks who got up in the frigid morning simply to shake pompoms and encourage us in our efforts. The race officials played “Born to Run” to lead us off, which was really nice for a Bruce fan, but the best was the homemade sign one of the spectators held up along the way: “Worse Parade Ever.” Humor when you’re trudging up the hill of death is much appreciated.
Here we are, being happy we finished: