And I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more . . .
Okay, so maybe I can't walk 500 miles, but I've always loved walking. In fact, it was one of Kyle and my favorite pastimes when we were dating. We would walk around downtown Hillsboro and just talk about anything under the sun.
|Running for Grace. It just doesn't get any better than this.|
Yup, I love to walk. Running on the other hand is a whole other story. I really need one of those T-shirts that say "If you see me running, you should run too, because someone is chasing me." And I truly mean it.
But for others in my immediate family, that's not the case. Kyle took up running several years ago. In fact, he ran his first 5K with two of his siblings when I was pregnant with Grace. And while he probably wouldn't tell you that he loves running, I'm very proud that he sticks with it and keeps going. He's already run in five 5K events and is planning for three this year.
|Kyle's first 5K race. Grace was there too (sort of).|
My brother and his wife, Emily, have also taken up running in the past few years. They've really embraced it and have run several long distance events.
In December 2013, an MRI revealed that Grace's cerebellum was smaller than that of other children her age. At the time, we didn't know about INAD, and still felt that Grace would walk or maybe even run someday. Just after the first of the year, Johnny sent me an e-mail message that made me cry.
He told me he set a goal to run 1,000 miles during the year 2014 in honor of Grace. I couldn't even imagine that. And I was so honored he would do that just for Grace.
Throughout the year, I got periodic updates of his progress, and he stayed on track for the whole year.
|Johnny gave Grace his race medal from his first marathon.|
He even signed up for his first full marathon event at the end of October. I still remember that morning, he sent me a text that said "Today I run for Grace in hopes one day she will run by my side." He even wrote Grace on his shoes and put her picture on his marathon bib. Then, when he was home for Christmas, he gave Grace his medal.
He was hoping that he could finish his 1,000 miles when he was home for Christmas, and Kyle was even going to run the very last mile with him. But illness and cold weather kept them from finishing. He ended up finishing just before the end of the year at his home, and even sent me a picture.
|This is the day Johnny finished his 1,000 miles.|
So, Johnny being Johnny, started to think about how he could top that this year. No, he didn't shoot to run 2,000 miles. Although, he did sign up to do the New York City marathon later this year.
He and Emily decided on something that would give back to all the kids with INAD. They decided to plan a 5K fundraiser this September in Hillsboro. Plans are still in the works, but we are hoping for a huge turnout and celebration. There will even be a virtual aspect where you can run from your home if it's not that close to Hillsboro.
|Uncle Johnny and Aunt Emily (and Bruce) after the ten-mile Cherry Blossom run.|
|Check out Bruce in the cherry blossoms!|
To kick off the effort, they formed Team Bruce with some of their friends, and have been running with a replica of the pink and white stuffed puppy Grace calls Bruce. They started with a 10-mile run at the beginning of April in Washington D.C. through the cherry blossoms. Bruce made his inaugural debut as Johnny carried him throughout the race.
|Uncle Johnny and Team Bruce ready for the 200-mile race.|
Up next was a 200-mile relay event this past weaken from Gettysburg to Washington D.C. with 12 people total. Each runner carried Bruce along their portion of the route, and he made it the whole 200-mile course. They even had a fundraiser before the event and raised $1,200 for the 5K event this fall.
|Uncle Johnny and Bruce making their run.|
On Johnny's final leg of the 200-mile course, he called and left me a voicemail while he was running (let's just say it was a little earlier than I usually get up). He told me how much Grace inspired him on his journey. It brought tears to my eyes to know how many people Grace inspires each and every day.
|Team Bruce after the race!|
Whether you run or walk (there's a 5K and one-mile portion), we hope you will join us in September for another awesome day in this "Grace-filled journey."