Despite my best intentions following the Race 4 Respect 2016 to post photos right away for team members and posterity, I find myself in the now familiar position of trying to unearth and post nearly year old photos in preparation for race 2017 which is a mere six weeks away. Team 2016 was the largest yet and a fun eclectic mix of business associates, family, friends, prayer partners, young, and ummm more mature runners and non runners alike. Each one has been part of the team which has held us up through trial and cheered with us through triumph. Having them with us on the day we celebrate the fighting spirit and victories of Addison and his peers means So.Very. Much. to this family.
One of the things that made this team extra special was Allen's boss, who is no longer his boss. One more reason why it is important to post quickly? K challenged their team members to come out from as much as four and five hours away on a Saturday to support Addison. He gave the extra incentive that they could count it as their team building exercise for the month. And they came. All but one.
Aunt Dawn came out for her second ever race.
The Owonas we have walked with since we all started this marriage and parenting business... they are the ones who lay in the background and come around when you need a good laugh or even a cry... the ones who come out to run every year sure as the seasons change just so you know they've got your back.
Grandma Irenia came with us all the way from Poland. Yep, she thought she couldn't do it but she did! As I sit here I can't help but think that right there is one of Addison's amazing gifts. He drives people to try more and be more than they ever thought possible. And I've got the picture to prove it.
Long time friend, Susan, came out with her husband, six kids (2 in a buggy) and five months pregnant. Seeing her cross the finish line made me smile as I thought of all those mamas who had chosen life and were waiting for their children with down syndrome to be born.
I love that Gosia, the friend who has never run and hates everything about running, came out and pushed two boys in a buggy for three miles to experience part of what it is like for Addison to face "the hard" of every day life. This is what Race 4 Respect means to this family. It is a celebration of pushing ourselves harder every day to run the race set before each of us. For Addison that is overcoming seizures, learning to walk and finding ways to eat even though everything was against him. For some it is literally and figuratively running a faster mile and for others it is just running the mile to begin with. As I think back on our team in the year since this race I think of the very many challenges each member has faced, sickness, financial challenges, the loss of a parent, and the list goes on too personal to detail here. Perhaps, it is only waxing philosophical, but I'd like to think in some small way those trials were more bearable because through preparing for this day everyone realized they always have a little more in them to make it across the finish line.
The pre-race energy of the crowd as people mill about sharing their running stories and kids burn off excess energy is so fun. Please someone explain to me why I can't bottle that stuff.
These two have been friends and competitors since they were babies. It was fun to see them apply that spirit on race day.
Isaiah and Nehemiah are like two more younger brothers to our Samuel. He was so excited to have them out there with him.
As we were unloading in the parking garage I asked Carmella if she wanted the buggy or was she going to run the whole race. She said she wanted to run and bless that four year old girl, she did it. Three miles and smiling the whole way. So proud of her constant determination and drive.
Emma and Aedan, along with the rest of his siblings are integral parts of Addison's success.
Heading to the starting line
Prayer huddle... the most important component of our team's success
Our fast boys. Their speed amazes me especially the fact that they can still smile in the end.
Isaiah was so excited to finish his first race and so very proud of his very first medal. Of course, it is hard to think of something Isaiah is not excited about.
The kids, who were among the first of 800 runners to finish, stayed at the finish line cheering others on until the last runner came home.
Finishing himself wasn't enough. Samuel went back after he crossed the finish line to encourage other team members by running the remainder of the race with them. I have no idea how many times he crossed the finish line that day, but I do know I saw him coming in with complete strangers who were struggling to get to the end. His heart makes this mama tear up even a year later.