I write about my life and life itself seen through my eyes for who can write through the experiences of others if not their own?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Running for a cause

I don’t know how it started or what prompted Suzy Loughlin to organize a 5K that started at the Headquarters of Frontier Insurance Company on Lake Louise Marie Rd in Rock Hill and benefited the American Heart Association and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society 17 years ago. It was only after Suzy’s father Walter Rhulen, an avid runner himself, passed away from Leukemia, that the race was dedicated to his memory, and to raise money solely to combat Leukemia and Lymphoma. Interesting how some causes are close to our heart before we know why.

That is how it was for me too.

The Rock Hill Run and Ramble (R4) was the first race I ever run. It was 1997. The location was convenient right there where I worked. I knew nothing about running, racing or Leukemia and Lymphoma, for that matter. After running it the first time, I volunteered to be in the committee for no other reason than to do something fun, no real connection to the cause or the race itself. Then I began to raise pledges and I won 4 bikes in a row. I knew where the money was going and that was good enough for me but winning a prize was more my incentive than the cause, what the funds really did or who received them was of no concern to me. I knew nothing more about Leukemia or Lymphoma other than people died from it. I did not have to know more about it ….until one day.

It was one afternoon on late April. I had come home early after going to the doctor for a routine exam. After I got home, the doctor called and asked me if I knew what Lymphoma was. What I raise money for every year, I answered. “It’s a malignancy. We think you might have it.”

A month before the 2001 R4 I was diagnosed. I knew then what the race was for. I stopped complaining about the price of the entry fee, I knew first hand what the money towards research meant, I stopped demanding better shirts, more food or more water even if always abundant. It didn’t matter. What mattered is that I was running for my own cause and 700 other people - mostly in front of me -where running for the same cause with most of them not realizing how close to home it has come to some of us.

In 2004, the "Myriam Loor patient fund" was created by my friend and race director in an effort to help pay my medical bills. My name was later dropped to avoid the misconception that I was the beneficiary every year. That patient fund continues to help one or two people every June. This year, the proceeds will benefit a 9 year old suffering from Luekemia.

I shake my head when I hear of people who working for the same company that sponsors the race are reluctant to help even after having gone through it themselves. For those of us, survivors of any kind, it is not a chore, it's a mission.

Every year I am there, ready to run. Every year my family runs. Every year I hear of somebody else being stricken by one of those two awful illnesses and benefiting from this race. Every year, I pray and hope they will be around next year.

Every year, I think of running the R4 again, year after year.

I hope you do too.