Saturday, September 22
Today is the day of the first-ever (and hopefully first annual) Myositis Day Walk-A-Thon. Julia had dance rehersal late in the morning, then we picked her up, grabbed some lunch, and headed out to the Walk. The weather was absolutely glorious! A better day could not have been custom ordered - it was sunny and warm, a stunningly beautiful first day of autumn. As Janice, the Walk organizer, said, "It wouldn't dare rain!"
The walk was held in Harvard, MA (not to be confused with Harvard University) at the Bromfield School. It's a beautiful school and grounds, and the walk began and ended there. We got there in time to register and drop off the money we collected from family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Thanks to everyone who contributed to support Julia, to help make this event a huge success, and to help fight Myositis!
Before the event, we had some time to grab a snack and drink (all supplies were donated by local sponsor companies). We also met and chatted with several people who had come out to walk, to volunteer, or to cheer the walkers on. To a person, everyone was friendly and cheerful and enjoying the day and the company.
The Walk stepped off promptly at 1:00, although several people arrived late. There were over 100 walkers (I have not heard a final exact count). The Walk itself winded through some lovely wooded residential neighborhoods and was mostly shaded. The shade was a blessing, as it kept the walkers cool. There were also plenty of water breaks along the way, so it was easy to keep cool and stay hydrated. The three of us availed ourselves of the water often.
We set out in a big pack of walkers, but we let Julia set the pace. Her pace was a very quick one and soon we were ahead of all but the runners and a handful of others. The course was mostly level or uphill most of the first 3 miles, and was mostly downhill the last 2 miles. Julia showed amazing strength and stamina throughout, and a fierce determination to be the first kid to finish.
Julia did it! Five Miles!! She was all red and sweaty by about mile 4, but she was utterly determined to finish, and she actually ran most of the last mile, since it was mostly downhill. Even more amazing is that we completed the 5 miles in 1:20, which is a pace of 16 minute miles. Julia absolutely could not have done this 3 years ago, or 2 years ago, or one year ago, or probably even 6 months ago. Her effort today was truly heroic and inspirational.
After we finished the walk, we relaxed in the shade and cheered the other walkers as they completed the course. There were many amazing stories among those walkers, too. There were even people who didn't even know anyone with Myositis who heard about the walk and just wanted to participate and help out. It was tremendoulsy uplifting to watch the walkers as they returned to the school.
There was plenty of time to socialize afterwards. We met many of the people from the State House ceremony, plus dozens of others. Several people flattered me by coming up to me and asking, "Are you Ralph Becker?" and thanking me for creating and maintaining this Diary. You're welcome everyone! There were also a lot of people who wanted to meet Julia after hearing and reading so much about her. She was very polite and gracious.
As the afternoon wound down, they held a raffle and then served pizza. We relaxed on the lawn and took pictures and talked with people. What a great event! Next year's date has already been set, so be sure to circle Saturday, September 21, 2002 and make it a point to be there!
Julia was understandably tired and fell asleep on the ride home. After we got home, she felt sore in her legs and hips and we gave her an ibuprofen to help with that. At the very end of the day, I got an email indicating that the walk had already raised over $27,000, plus other money that was pledged and corporate matching gifts that will push the total to over $30,000. WOW!! What a wonderful day.
Click here to see pictures from the walk
Sunday, September 23
Julia was quite sore this morning, walking around the kitchen like a little old lady. I think she was exaggerating a little, but the soreness is to be expected. We went off to church , then Julia spent the day at a friend's house. Her friend recently had hip surgery, and is confined to a wheelchair for a couple of months. The two had a fun day together.
Thursday, September 27
I got an email today indicating that the final total on the Walk-A-Thon is over $40,000! This is great. We also got a couple of late donations for Julia's participation, and her total was almost $1,200. Thanks to everyone who contributed to make this event an enormous success. We are already looking forward to next year's walk!
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