I have been thinking about some whimsical things to wish for, but thought for the first day of this new month that I would wish for something that I have always wanted other people to have since I first started running for Kelly in January 1999.
I was so incredibly fortunate to have Kelly be assigned as my patient hero during my first event with Team in Training. They have since changed the name to Team hero.
Kelly and I lived almost 900 miles apart. I live in a suburb of Denver, Colorado and Kelly lived in a small town in Montana about 40 miles from the Canadian border. Montana was part of the Rocky Mountain chapter which is no longer the case.
Kelly was 10 years old and in remission when I first started training for the San Diego Rock and Roll marathon.
Over the next nine years, I was blessed to be a part of her cancer journey. Kelly's family became my family.
There were numerous trips to Seattle to visit her where she underwent treatment for the Leukemia.
There was a magical trip to Disneyland in 2001 that Kelly invited me to when it looked like it might be the last trip she would take with her family.
There was another family vacation in Calgary later that summer. Hiking around Lake Louise, visiting the little shops in Banff. Hugging Kelly at the finish line of the Calgary marathon. A trip to the Calgary zoo after the marathon.
Dancing with Kelly at Marcy's wedding.
Trips to Cut Bank for prom and later to see her walk with her class when she graduated in 2007.
A trip to Seattle in 2008 where I got to share in the moment of Kelly meeting her transplant donor for the first time.
Crossing the finish line of many marathons, century rides and even a couple of triathalons.
This young girl that I first began running for at the age of 10, was my hero, my inspiration to do things I never thought I could do, ever dreamed I could do.
She taught me to never give up.
She taught me about courage.
She taught me about joy, about living and loving life.
Kelly had cancer. She chose her cancer. She chose her life.
I have always wished for other people in Team in Training to be able to have the experience I had with Kelly.
No one would ever stop doing Team in Training. Blood cancer wouldn't stand a chance.
My wish would be for everyone to meet a Kelly in their lifetime.
My life was changed forever by knowing and loving this beautiful young girl.