Dear Friends and Family,

I'd like to share a bit of my story and the reason why I choose to raise money for the Sharon Timlin Memorial Race to Cure ALS now. My story is likely not unique, but one that I hope gives pause, if nothing else.
 
Who I am:

I am a Brookline resident. I live on mile 24 of the Boston Marathon route, which has been both a tease and a motivation for me to become a marathoner. I've now run four marathons and countless shorter distant road races. I've always rejoiced in Boston's precious Patriot's Day, cheered on the runners who passed by my house and walked away from the course each year wishing I qualified for it myself. I've missed BQing twice by about 10 minutes each time.
 
I am a runner. I've run since I was 12 years old, when I needed a recreational outlet in school and quickly found it in cross-country. I didn't see myself as a potential marathoner until I moved to Boston in 1999, and watched my first Boston Marathon run by my office in Newton. That changed my life.
 
Most importantly, I am a mother, wife and daughter. I thought life couldn't get any happier when I married my husband. Then we met our daughter. We cherish every moment we have with her, and now I understand why my mother cares so much about what I'm up to even though we live on opposite sides of the country. I will never not worry about my daughter, for as long as I live. I hope I never take a second of my time with my family for granted.
 
Where I was:
 
April 15, 2013 was a dark day for Boston, the running community and humanity in general. I was cheering at mile 24 when the bombs hit. I stayed there waiting for a friend to pass, blissfully unaware, for another 20 minutes before the police started directing all spectators away without explanation. When I arrived to my door, a neighbor told me bombs had hit the finish line. 'What?' I had my daughter in my arms. 'Bombs?' All I could think about was protecting her and reaching my husband, who was on his way home from California. I ran into our apartment only to crumble to the floor. I didn't want to turn on the TV. I didn't want to know what happened. Then I did. I saw. I learned. I shook and cried, clutching my daughter the whole time.
 
When I started to process the news, over an hour later, my first reaction was we could have been there. I had been spectating at the finish line in years prior. My office was a block passed the finish line on the same side of the street as the bombs. Had I not been recently laid off, conveniently just for the weeks before and after the bombing, I may have been out there watching the race at that very spot. If I'd run the race, my husband and daughter could have been there waiting for me to cross the finish line. I couldn't think about it. But for others not so lucky - they couldn't escape that reality.
 
Then I became angry and driven. I thought I will run it. I will do everything I can to protect my family and all that I love - the joy of a spring day, the innocence of a wonderful event, the spirit of all the runners and amazing spectators, our ability to just live and enjoy life, precious as it is.
 
Precious as it is.

What I'm running for:

Up until about 2 years ago, when both of my grandparents passed away within weeks of one another, I'd only lost one person I loved and cared for. My godfather Bernie, a close family friend who I affectionately called Uncle Pete, was taken away viciously when I was just a teenager. His killer was ALS.

Uncle Pete was more like family than godfamily. My parents had divorced when I was 5 years old, and my Uncle Pete lived only 10 minutes from my home with my mom. We saw him often. I always loved visiting him because he would talk baseball, make fun fruit juices and let me run loose around the property with his pet dogs.

We saw him even more when I was in high school, when my mom quit her job to take care of him. ALS had begun ravaging his body though his mind stayed sharp as a tack. I remember he used to play Scrabble with my mom. While he played, he would smoke and the cigarettes would burn down and blacken his fingers before he'd let my mom help him put it out. He was stubborn. He didn't want help. He didn't want to give in.

But he lost the battle.

The night he died, I had driven straight to his house in NY from my college in Rhode Island. I had just finished my first semester, and I was leaving in a blizzard. I made it home in time, both to barely beat the worst of the storm and to say goodbye. Once I got inside, tired and terrified of what was to come, I pulled up a cot near his bedside, where my mom and his family had gathered. I fell asleep around 11 pm. Just a couple of hours later, in the darkest hours of the night and the heaviest of the storm, I woke suddenly. I heard my mom crying, saying, "Go, Bernie, go." I ran to his side and watched him take his last breaths. He was suffering. His lungs weren't working any more. His eye lids could no longer blink. He finally took one last breath. The terror was finally over, after more than two years of suffering.

Devastation was immediate and immense. I had not only watched a relative die in front of me, but it was my Uncle Pete. He was closer to me than my own father. I'd never forget this moment. I'd never take life for granted.

Though I know at times I have. Marathon Monday was my cruel, stark reminder.

Life is too short. We have to recognize and fight the terrorists all around us, whether they be cowardly people that shred all that is good, or invisible beasts that ravage our hearts, minds and bodies. We have to cherish all that is good in this world.

So this I promise:

I will love my home.

I will love my community.

I will love my family.

I will love my life.

I will fight to protect and cherish all that is good and right, and one day I will make my daughter proud to call me her mom. With a little luck, some hard work and a lot of hope, just maybe we can all help defeat the terrorists around us and within.

Thank you for supporting my cause.

Love,
Robyn

 


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