Philly LiveStrong Challenge 8-23-09

Yesterday, Team Smitty participated in the Philly LiveStrong Challenge.  There were 24 team members which included people from Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, & Kentucky!  We raised $7261 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  John would have been so proud of us. 

John started Team Smitty.  He had hoped to be able to participate in the bike ride.  In 2008, he did the 100 mile ride.  John’s initial goal for Team Smitty was 5 members and to raise $2500.  We way surpassed that!  John really believed in the Lance Armstrong Foundation and they do an awesome job fighting cancer, providing research funds, and supporting patients. 

The morning of August 23rd started before the crack of dawn as my friend, Beth, and I got up SUPER early to feed horses.  Wendy joined up with us & shortly after 4AM Beth, Wendy, Dad, Nathaniel, & I headed out to pick up Steve.  We then headed to Blue Bell, PA. 

We met up with Nathan & his family on our arrival and soon found Lumpy & the rest of the crew.  Somebody from AFD made up these awesome signs.  I LOVE them!!!

I had a great time & Nathaniel was a SUPER STAR!!  He was so well behaved!  I was so proud of him… of course, I couldn’t help but think how proud John would be of him. 

Nathaniel Smith- Riding in style!

Nathaniel Smith- Riding in style!

We had to wait a while before the start.  They delayed the time to 8AM.  My heels have been hurting a lot lately, usually I “walk out of it,” but today it didn’t happen.  So, my right heel hurt with every single step… oh well… I fought through it and kept going.  I figured with everything John went through his last several months, I could walk 3.1 miles on a sore heel.  Plus, I’m not a quitter!  I walked with Lumpy and his 3 wonderful children.  At about the halfway point, Menassa, Lisa, & Abby caught up with us.  A wrong turn which led them to NJ; caused Menassa to miss the 100 mile bike ride, but they still came out and found us during the walk to support John! 

The sheer number of people at the challenge is amazing.  To think that everybody is there with the goal of fighting cancer is amazing.  It was very moving to see the signs that people wore.  Some had a whole chain of “In Memory” or “In Honor” names.  Then to see people with “survivor” was emotional.  Last year, John was a survivor.  I hope and pray that all of the “survivors” will continue to be survivors.  One of the groups that I walked behind had several people all walking for the same person and beside them on the far right was who they were walking for… a little girl who couldn’t have been more than five or six years old.  They also had pedicabs that took children who were receiving cancer treatments and not well enough to walk.  As a parent, you think about things differently and it was hard to think about what the families are going through.  In addition, I just found out that a friend’s father has been diagnosed with cancer 😦  We’ve got to do something to stop this terrible disease or at least make it more diagnosable and more treatable. 

Steve was the first person to finish on Team Smitty… he ran the 5K.  Then Steve was nice enough to walk back, find me, & walk with me!  I really appreciated that! 

I started getting a little emotional towards the finish line.  I saw the survivors lane and I thought of how much it meant to see John get his rose last year and how much it meant when he handed it to me.  I thought we’d beat the beast.  Our lives were so perfect back then… our new son, John was healthy and cancer free.  Life was good. 

Coming to the finish

Coming to the finish

I held back tears and crossed the finish line.  I did my own version of Calvin Borel, and blew a kiss to the sky for John.  A few tears crossed my cheeks, but I managed to not bawl.  Why did we walk/run/ bike?  I did it for John… and for everbody who has had to deal with cancer. 

After the bikers finished, Ricky Hayes gave me his survivor rose.  I didn’t even realize he was a cancer survivor.  He had thyroid cancer years ago.  I can’t tell you how much getting that rose meant to me.  Thanks, Rick!

A bunch of us had lunch together.  During lunch I had a wonderful conversation with Menassa about organizing bike rides.  Back when John was riding a lot, he had developed a route that he termed the Tour de Cecil.  He reallly wanted to ride it with his biking buddy, Menassa.  I’m still trying to determine if John had ridden the ride as well or not.  I just think it would be very fitting to create an annual bike ride in memory of John.  He really loved cycling.  So… we’re talking about ways to make that happen.  That’s me… always thinking of “what’s next.” 

After lunch, I headed to the “Our Mission” booth & made up 3 cards for John, Ann& Dave, & my Grandma Brown.  It was hard to find open spots, but I found three places.

Then we headed towards home.  Before I went home, I stopped by the cemetary and placed the rose on John’s grave.  It just seemed like the right thing to do.  I also put his “good for one beer” ticket there.  Seems like an odd thing to do for somebody who doesn’t drink. 

The day before John died, in the ER, he was getting asked the typical health questions.  He said “no.” to do you drink.  But he said he wanted to try a beer and even asked, “Doc, what do you drink?”  Had I know it would have been his last night, I would have bought him a beer.  But, I didn’t.  So… it just seemed fitting. 

Thanks to everybody who joined or supported Team Smitty.  We’re already talking about Team Smitty for the 2010 Philly LiveStrong Challenge!!!  Bigger & Better!!! 

More photos are available at www.leakycreek.com I’ve included a few favorites…

Walking for Smitty- Carri, Mary Katharine, & Wendy

Walking for Smitty- Carri, Mary Katharine, & Wendy

 

Team Smitty Bikers, Scott Baer in the lead

Team Smitty Bikers, Scott Baer in the lead

 

Scott Baer

Scott Baer

 

Mary Katharine

Mary Katharine

 

Nathan & CT

Nathan & CT

 

Nathaniel & His Mommy (aka me)

Nathaniel & "His Mommy" (aka me)Me

Lumpy & Nathan & kids

Lumpy & Nathan & kids

CT

CT

Wendy

Wendy

Team Smitty

Team Smitty

Team Smitty

Team Smitty

Nikolaus, Rick, Doug

Nikolaus, Rick, Doug

Team Smitty

Team Smitty

The back of our pack- In memory of John

The back of our pack- In memory of John

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About Mary K. Smith

I was widowed in July 2009, when I lost my beloved husband, John, to melanoma. Cancer SUCKS. We have a young son who was just a year old when his father died. I live on a small farm in Maryland which is home to horses, cats, and a dog. I started this blog as a way for me to heal, a way to remember my husband, and eventually I'd like to share it with our son so he can see the love that his father had for him, the love that we had for each other, what a great person his father was, and how hard his father fought to live.
This entry was posted in Annapolis Fire Department, Cycling, Events in honor of John, Family, Friends, John, LiveStrong Challenge, Nathaniel, Pre-stage IV, Stage IV and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Philly LiveStrong Challenge 8-23-09

  1. Shannon Rodgers says:

    Way to go Team Smitty! I am proud of you all and love this tribute…know John would be proud as well. Now go heal that heel, Mary. 🙂 Love and yellow roses, Shan

  2. Great pics, a great team, and a wonderful tribute to John. It was so touching to read about the yellow rose.

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