Life is funny. You can see the giving nature of others and yet still be surprised when you see it again.
This journey is about many things and every individual runner has their own motivations. Each one is important. But one common thread through each story is the spirit to help others in their time of need.
I have gotten to know the members of the Run Now Relay in the first few days very well and would consider them family. The bond that is developed on a journey like this builds relationships that can last a lifetime. But an unexpected joy has been the people along the way.
The pastor at the church in Charlottesville, Va., who opened his church to us, feeding us, doing our laundry and allowing us to shower and sleep at his facility.
The native Clevelander who attends East Tennessee State University who tracked us down and found us running down the road, only so she could give us a donation.
The fire department that welcomed our runners with all the vehicle lights flashing and cold bottles of water.
The University of Virginia students who cheered on our runners, the police officer who stopped us to get a picture with the team on the side of the road, the medieval knights re-enactors battling in the neighborhood park with real armor and wooden swords and the incredible amount of attention, well-wishes, support and donations we’ve received online.
All of it has been overwhelming and simply amazing. These unexpected, but wonderful experiences have inspired us to go farther. The simple comment, “It is a great thing you all are doing,” pushes us even farther toward our goal.
Many experiences have been inspiring, just as many have been hilarious. As I watched the knights pound each other with wooden swords and they kindly allowed me to hold one of their helmets, I turned to the largest man and simply said, “You all are crazy!”
He looked at me and simply responded, “You are running all the way to Boston.”
Or the time the officer stopped our runner on the side of the road and said, “Do you need help?”
Our runner simply says, “No, I am just running to Boston.”
Baffled, the officer just stared at our runner, not sure if he was crazy, lying or both. After a long pause, our runner asked, “Can I run now?”
The officer, still looking suspiciously at our runner, simply said, “Sure.”
Then there was the television cameraman trying to catch our active runner by sprinting down a busy street yelling, “Hold on!” so he could do an interview for the nightly news.
But whether it is inspiring or hilarious, we can’t get away from the primary reason we are driven — the opportunity to help others. To do something special and tangible that will help our neighbors. The chance to reach out and give a hand.
As I write this, it is the one-year anniversary of that tragic event in Boston. Today, at 2:49 p.m., for the first time since leaving Cleveland, our runner stopped and paused for one moment of silence in memory of what happened. Our entire team gathered around the runner and prayed. A simple prayer ... “Love wins.”
We are experiencing that firsthand. We are seeing what is happening. We are seeing the human spirit, and we are experiencing neighborly love firsthand.
While we planned the trip to offer support to others, we have repeatedly been on the receiving end. So, sometimes life is funny: When you give, you receive.