Who is inspirational to you?
What inspires you?
When you can’t keep going, what helps?
Where do you find inspiration?
Why do you do what you do?
For me, Charlie is the inspiration and motivation behind my running. This is a story about why I run.
My running journey started on a whim in the summer of 2018. I was working as a Physician Assistant at the time. I had several girlfriends that had signed up for a large local race, the Army Ten-Miler. I had never run (for sport) in my life. In fact, if you were to ask me if I ran, I would answer “only when chased.” But the past summer had proven to be quite stressful, so I was convinced to sign up and train. It would be a “one and done.”
Our youngest, Charlie, was just over a year old and was struggling to meet her milestones. She was not walking or crawling. She said very few words, mainly “mama,” “dada,” and “baba.”
She was a “floppy” baby. We were not terribly concerned as she was our third kid. We chalked it up to her being lazy, and us being busy. But there was something else going on.
September 13, 2018, one month before the big race: The day began like any other. It was a Thursday, and I was in the clinic. Working in orthopedic oncology, I was used to giving families terrible news and being the shoulder to cry on. Little did I know that this day, I would be on the receiving end of bad news. I would be the one who needed the shoulder. I was a bit antsy because Charlie had a big appointment that day that I was unable to attend, so my husband went instead. That day our lives changed. That day I began to learn what true inspiration is. Charlie had been diagnosed with Rett Syndrome; an incurable neuromuscular disease that robs her of the ability to walk, talk, and use her hands.
That Saturday was a long run training day, so I laced up my shoes and ran. So many thoughts were dancing around in my head. Tears streaming down my face off and on made it harder to practice my breathing. But still I ran. That day I decided that if my baby Charlie couldn’t run, at least I could. And I would. That day, I decided that I would continue to run until she could, and I would use my running as a way to educate and advocate. I signed up for my first half marathon. I told my husband that I wanted my first one to be a Disney race, so I signed up for the 2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon.
I trained hard. I invited my college roommates down for a little reunion. I told them about Charlie and why I had decided to run. They all agreed to make the trip down in full support. They made shirts to surprise me: “Charlie’s Angels” they said on the front. At the race expo, I found more of my tribe; a charity group dedicated to education and research to find a cure for Rett Syndrome. Almost five years to the day, and I have logged thousands of miles, run dozens of races, and each one is because of Charlie. Every person that I engage in conversations about running, about Charlie, is one more person educated. Every step I take brings us closer to a cure.