Day #37: 122 team miles
Cincinnati – Columbus, Ohio
Running Partner: Mae (plus 2 extra run/hike with Patty, Sarah, Joe and Matt)
Today I ran in honor of Mrs. Sandy Scherrens, the wife of my college’s President, and an extremely courageous lady who inspires the entire Newberry community. She and her husband are very supportive of Newberry College students, faculty and staff and are always attending different campus events. They often eat with the community in the school cafeteria and attend chapel on Wednesdays mornings. It’s amazing that they are so involved and even when facing cancer this couple stayed strong and carried on! 🙂
Once again Ohio’s roads were a challenge for our leg leaders…making it another trail day for the team! Our original plan was to run on the roads but due to safety we had to make a new one. We woke up at 4:30 to get on the road as soon as possible since this afternoon we have a service project. On route we saw a beautiful sunrise and those of us who weren’t driving napped in the back of our 15-passenger vans. Anything is a bed on 4k…we usually sleep on floors (sometimes on sleeping pads – sometimes without in order to save time not having to roll it up in the morning) so sitting in the vans people sprawl out and with the rocking motion of the vehicle fall asleep quite often and quickly!
We went to Paint Creek Lake where there were two short trails: Little Pond Trail and Harmony Trail. Little Pond Trail was said to be a mile and a half but in reality was about 0.7 and Harmony Trail was 0.5mile. This meant that to get in our individual 10 miles we would have to do a bunch of loops or improvise. So though we did a number of loops around the trails most of our miles were in the form of an out and back on the roads heading out of the park. It was a very hilly route but beautiful nonetheless and we passed horses, fields and lovely family homes. We saw very few cars and only one friendly walker passing in the opposite direction. Mae and I had some great conversations about a wide variety of topics. The miles went quickly and though it was a cool day, by the end, we were all drenched in sweat from the humidity. As we waited for other groups to finish their miles Patty told us about a very picturesque spot so a few of us went off and added a two mile run/hike to our day. The river was lovely but crossing the bridge was definitely my favorite part! On each side were lovely views and soaring birds. 🙂
As I ran I thought of all the people we run for each day. The people who we mention in the dedication circle ceremonies we have each morning and those we carry in our hearts. The people we are asked to run for by others, and the people we have personally watched battle cancer. Each of these people is an example of strength, courage and perseverance. As we run we can stop and any pain usually goes away. When someone has a life-threatening disease they don’t have this option. As we run for those who cannot, we are grateful for our health and the ability to do so. We also run with hope that even in the darkest of times, the support of those around them can help these people continue their courageous efforts. They may not realize it but they are the inspirational ones.
When everyone had finished running we hopped into our vans and headed to Columbus where we went directly to the Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio. A very sweet lady met us, Meika, and fed us a delicious spaghetti lunch! She and another lady then gave us a tour of the house: it’s the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world! They had 82 rooms for families and recently have been working on adding about 40 more! My dad’s cousins live near Columbus and when their son had to have kidney surgery at the Children’s hospital they actually stayed at the Ronald McDonald House that we volunteered at today. Also one of our teammates who had cancer (when she was little) told us about having stayed at Ronald McDonald Houses a number of times when she was sick. They are such a blessing for so many families who otherwise might not be able to stay nearby their sick children.
The website (http://www.rmhc.org/ronald-mcdonald-house) describes the situation of many families who stay at Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide:
“Many families travel far from home and spend several weeks or months to get treatment for their seriously ill or injured children – a long time to be away or to divide a family. And, for children facing a serious medical crisis, nothing seems scarier than not having mom and dad close by for love and support. A Ronald McDonald House is that “home-away-from-home” for families so they can stay close by their hospitalized child at little or no cost.
Our Houses are built on the simple idea that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on the health of their child – not where they can afford to stay, where they will get their next meal or where they will lay their head at night to rest. We believe that when a child is hospitalized the love and support of family is as powerful as the strongest medicine prescribed.”
What an amazing program! Families are asked to donate $20 per night if they are able but no family is turned away for inability to pay. As we toured the house we saw many kitchens, laundry rooms, a music room, a game room, a fitness center and other facilities that are open 24/7 (since they never know when families will be coming in and since no family has the same schedule with hospital appointments and such.) When we noticed how few people were physically present, though the house is often full to capacity, Meika told us how most of the time these families are at the hospital with their loved ones. The families who stay here are so courageous but though the decorations and accommodations are a lot of fun it doesn’t change how scary their situations are. What the house does do however it give them a chance to meet other families in similar situations, rest, stay near the hospital and find hope.
The Central Ohio Ronald McDonald House has many donors and sponsors who have made this special place possible and operable and it was such a joy to be able to contribute to their efforts today. We had been scheduled to help build the playground that is being constructed outside of the facility but due to safety (with the power tools and all) they found some other projects for us to work on. We helped build shelving units for the housekeeping rooms (where cleaning supplies and the like will be kept), organized some of these supplies and transported other materials to places where they are needed! It was very cool to get to do something for this place that helps so many families! After leaving I looked into Ronald McDonald Houses near my school in South Carolina and hopefully I’ll be able to go to the Columbia House and volunteer some time this fall! They are always in need of volunteers so if you have some free time in your schedule and would like to serve a meal or otherwise help out you might want to look into this cool opportunity to bring hope to families who are facing difficult situations. 🙂
After saying goodbye to the kind staff and volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House, we headed to the Church of the Messiah which is located right outside of Columbus in Westerville. We are staying at a building owned by the church which is called “the Gathering Place” and is absolutely awesome! Fun fact: my second cousins used to go to this church. 🙂 It has many couches, some cots and mattresses meaning that most of us will not have to blow up our sleeping pads for the next two nights!!! (Tomorrow is our last rest day so we’ll be here until we head out early Wednesday morning for Moundsville, West Virginia!)
Once we had arrived at our host, my dad’s amazing cousins, Rick, Michelle and their son Ben, came and took me out to dinner with my second cousin Spencer and my great Aunt and Uncle! We went to a place by the mall that was super delicious and it was a lot of fun to hear about their lives. They are all such intelligent people and have awesome careers! Also it was cool to hear how Ben got his black belt in taekwondo and writes his own comic book scripts!? I told him I can’t wait to get my autographed copy. 🙂 We got to sit outside and had a very lovely time, I’m so glad I got to see them all!
Heading back to the church I was just so grateful to have had a great meal and to get to sleep on a cot!!! AKA a REAL bed!!!! Such an exciting thing to have and something you are much more grateful for when you spend time without one.
Finally, I wanted to share a letter from Team Portland, (one of the bike teams associated with our organization) to the Ulman Cancer Fund organization and to the 4K for cancer friends and family. We had a chance to meet Team Portland and even shared a host for a night in Yuma, Colorado. (They will be passing through my hometown, Eugene, Oregon when I will be there so I’m hoping to get to see them again.) They are a very strong group of people who suffered the horrific loss of a teammate early on in their journey. Jamie Roberts passed away from a terrible accident but will always be remembered as a courageous young woman who was dedicated to helping others. She is someone who inspires all of us to keep up the fight against cancer and will never be forgotten. Our team now runs in memory of her life and in honor of all those she rode for and inspired.
To read the letter please see this link: http://ulmanfund.org/a-letter-from-team-portland/