I grew up in a very competitive home and culture. Many hours were spent in my home watching football, boxing, the Olympics and listening to the voice of Jim McKay of the Wide World of Sports. We were also involved in little league baseball, pee-wee football, little dribbler basketball, soccer and track. If there was a winner and a loser, we were involved. I was given a modicum of athletic talent and was blessed to win more than I lost, but one summer day brought a humbling experience.
I was taking part in the Allen summer track program, Legal Eagles. We would compete against other area track teams and I was slated to run most of the sprints. I had decent speed and could compete in the short sprints or hurdles. One particular track meet the coach decided to try me in the 400 meter sprint (I believe it was called the 440 then). That was fine with me as I enjoyed races that involved speed. I was assigned lane 8, as the 400 is a staggered start, so I started in front of everyone. As the gun sounded, I took off. Not a soul in front of me and I was cruising along all alone in first place. This was a cake walk. As I got to the end of the first straight away I could hear and see others coming up next to me and some even passing me. I tried to ‘dig deeper’ and kick into the next gear to make my move, but I was out of gas. I learned the 400 meter sprint was wrongly named. This was not a sprint, but one notch below a marathon. As we made the final turn I was in dead last place and to make matters worse, lane 8 had the longest path around the turn and I still had to finish the torturous final straight-away to the finish line. Needless to say, I did not win the race and vowed to never run another race that involved any left turns. I was so far behind the others, that the next groups of racers were waiting on me to finish so they could begin their race. Not my best race, but competition has many lessons – Humility being chief among them.
Fast forward to the spring of 2008. Our son Payton had been diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma (bone cancer) the year before. He was three. His treatment had been very effective and his prognosis good. He was doing well in the spring of 2008 and we were granted a Make-a-Wish trip to Disneyworld. So all 8 of us and our array of luggage flew to Florida for a week of fun and an opportunity to be somewhat normal again. Part of the Make-a-Wish experience was lodging at Give Kids the World (www.gktw.org), a playground unto itself. GKTW is an incredible place where kids with life-threatening illnesses can come and be treated like kings and queens. Not only are those kids treated like kings and queens, their entire families are spoiled beyond belief. Endless ice cream sundaes, Christmas every week, train rides to breakfast, gifts each day, etc., etc. An experience that brought smiles to faces that had not had much to smile about for some time. We can never thank GKTW enough for the joy and excitement they brought to our family. We learned many lessons while there – Gratitude being chief among them.
My competitive spirit has not died, I am just no longer able to play baseball, football, soccer or run sprints without pulling or breaking something. But I have found an avenue that allows me to compete and I hope help those who have helped us. I began running over a year ago to get in shape, but to also compete against myself and the clock. I’m not any better at it than I was as a child, but I enjoy the competitive aspect and the opportunity to reflect, think and pray during my runs. I had set a goal to run a marathon at some point and that point is now. I have signed up to run the Baltimore Marathon on October 12th of this year. It will be a great challenge for me, but I want to dedicate this run to some of the strongest kids and families I have ever met during our journey through the world of childhood cancer. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – these kids are true heroes and they continue to amaze me still. I would also like to run the race in an effort to give another family the same joy we were given at Give Kids the World. I have set a personal goal to raise $1,500.00 in support of GKTW during my run in Baltimore. I would love for you to be a part of that by donating to GKTW through my website, prior to October 12th. Please follow the link below if you would like to contribute.
You can see that I broke my promise of never running in races with left turns. Life is like that, we make plans and they change. Sometimes we are in lane 8 and everything looks easy, or sometimes we are in lane 1 trying to chase everything in front of us. It is easy to get frustrated and wonder what I have been doing wrong or what does God have against me. Regardless of the lane, our focus should be on the finish. The trophy has already been paid for and it awaits those who finish the race. Run hard, turn left and keep looking forward.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”