Not every adventure is about someplace or something new. Sometimes, an adventure is being part of something bigger than you and doing it on a regular basis. For the past four years, I have been fortunate to run with Team JDRF during WDW Marathon weekend. Being part of a team that gets together once a year is something like going to camp. There are faces you see each year and new faces to get to know, there are some that come every year and some that only come once. As a team and individually, we fundraise all year long. We raise quite a bit of money each year to fund research with JDRF. But, this year, I learned that’s not all we do….. I never realized before that we are more… we are there representing the T1 community. Let me back up just a second and tell you some of what makes the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend so special. Disney races attract a lot of first time racers, a lot of people who have overcome something and I believe the reason isn’t just because of where the race is (who wouldn’t want to race the the Disney parks) , but because of the people who race and volunteer at the races. Nowhere is known for having more supportive and encouraging people. I , myself, got back into running at Disney because of the supportive people. Twice this past weekend, I am aware of people being carried over the finish line by friends sacrificing their on finish time. I love that. Now back to how I learned that Team JDRF doesn’t “just” fundraise at WDW Marathon weekend….. People come from all over the world to participate in the races. This year, a family came from Bermuda for the Dad to race the Dopey challenge (4races, 4days, 5k, 10k, half marathon and full Marathon). One of their children had been diagnosed with Type 1 just 3 weeks earlier. Those in the T1 community know just how overwhelming that first month can be. The Dad happened to see one of our team in his Team JDRF shirt and inquired about it. After listening, he went to the JDRF tent and asked how he could help. Our wonderful leaders invited this Dad to our banquet where I was lucky enough to meet the whole family. I invited to sit with me at a table and we were joined by another type 1 family. I have so many emotions about what happened next that I hope I can share them well enough. In the short amount of time it takes to have dinner 1) a little girl met someone just like herself and became a little more comfortable with her new normal, 2) a mom got to talk to another mom and share what it’s like to be a T1 mom, 3) a Dad got to see that things really are going to be ok and he got a few extra apps for his phone too. And, I made some new friends! These things might seem very simple, but in the grand scheme of things making connections is very important. Talking to someone who understands makes you feel normal and accepted. I really enjoyed meeting them and hope to see them again at Children With Diabetes Friends For Life this coming summer (told them all about it).
The next thing that happened was pure coincidence . The race that I run each year is the 10k, which happens on Friday. Then, for the Marathon on Sunday, I cheer for my teammates and friends. The past couple years, I’ve dressed up and handed out tissues (for runny noses which happens when you run in cold weather) in front of the hot dog restaurant on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. After the races, a lot of people post pictures on Facebook in their favorite running group pages. I also posted a picture of myself in my Mike hoodie holding my JDRF sign.
From the posted picture Right off the bat, I recruited someone else to run for the team. Then, a couple hours later a discussion was started by another Type 1 about how to fuel during the race.
So, this year, I wasn’t just a part of Team JDRF the fundraising team….. I was a facilitator for discussion about Type 1. This isn’t about tooting my own horn, except it is. It’s about never knowing when the opportunity to help someone is going to pop up and how good it feels!
There is a joke about runners wanting to talk about it all the time and nobody wanting to listen, so feel free to skip the next part, I understand 😄
The next passage is what I wrote on my Facebook page and kind of sums things up….
637 women in the 50-54 division. My place was 468. That might sound awful to you. To me, it feels the same as if I had won. Rising above Type 1 diabetes and Rheumatoid arthritis is my goal. Showing young people that they too can thrive, makes my heart so full. Thank you all for your support!! #Winning
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