Wednesday, September 9, 2009


There is not much in my life that really makes me feel gratified these days. I'm in job I don't necessarily love and wonder every day if I should be doing something else. I'm in a relationship that spans 500 miles across the country and only get to see my girlfriend twice a month(however it is definitely worth it). The only thing in my life currently that gives me that sense of gratification, that feeling of "making a difference" is this marathon. There is something about being out on the road, running for countless miles with no end in sight, that really brings you back down to earth. And whenever I look up towards the sky, I'm always reminded why I'm putting my body though this. I remember that somehow, some way, this 26.2 mile race is going to help in the arduous, endless battle for life that cancer puts patients through. And deep down, that makes me feel good. When I started this cause and this mission, I had one goal and one person in mind. I wanted to raise money in honor of my mom whose life was cut entirely to short. However, along the way I continue to be inspired by others stories and others fights, some won and some lost. The latest two involve a man I never met and a girl who I would consider more than an acquaintance, but a friend.

Sean Swarner was diagnosed with cancer not once, but twice in his lifetime. And guess what? Both were before the age of 18! At one point, this young man was given 14 weeks of life left to live. Can you imagine what would go through your mind if you learned that in 14 weeks, 98 days, 2352 hours, your life would cease to exist. Most would panic, some would cry. Sean did neither. He instead decided he was going to beat cancer and he did exactly that. But what's even more inspirational is that other than being able to live a normal, cancer free existence, Sean wanted more. He decided he wanted to make a difference in the world and put his cancer-prone childhood to use. Sean decided he would be the first cancer survivor to climb Mt. Everest--and he did exactly that. With a flag inscribed with the names of countless cancer patients, he climbed to the top of the world with a mission for others to not suffer as greatly as he did. You can read his story yourself in his book "Keep Climbing". His story inspires me everyday and reminds me that my cause isn't hopeless. That together we all can make a difference.

So who is the inspirational girl I've written about. Her name is Sarah Jo Prewitt. Unfortunately she did not live long enough to know I was writing this post. Sarah Jo was a friend of mine from Mizzou who was a part of Tour Team. She was one of those people who always went out of her way to help someone and could never be found without a smile. As the saying goes, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Near the end of my junior year of college, Sarah Jo was diagnosed with a rare case of Leukemia. I will never forget sitting next to her at an end of the year BBQ at our bosses house and having a conversation with her. She was complaining about the fact the she had a cold and for some reason couldn't seem to shake it. Of course she said all of this with a smile and wasn't going to let it ruin her good time. I'm sure she never thought this would be the beginning of a disease that would steal her life. Through everything--from the fight for her life, to her fight to return to Mizzou, she never gave up. After she went into remission, bloated and hairless, she had no shame returning to school. Even though she was bald and much heavier than before she left, she lived out her college life in true college fashion and graduated. Sarah Jo was accepted into Mizzou's law program but didn't survive long enough to make it to her first day. I found out that Sarah Jo passed away this past Sunday morning. We weren't the greatest of friends and never hung out outside the office, but Sarah Jo was someone special, someone who was meant to make a difference in this world.

These stories continue to drive me to succeed. Whenever I start to wonder why I'm doing this, I think of these people and they give me the drive I need to cross that finish line. This past Thursday I ran 18 miles--my longest run to date. It was by far one of the hardest things I've ever done. Something about pushing your body to that magnitude isn't natural. However, when my muscles start to cramp and legs begin to tighten up, I just think of the pain these people must have went through. That's all I need to shake away the fear and continue on. Assuming I make it through this first marathon, I wouldn't be surprised if this is the beginning of something I continue to do for a long time.