One month later, and I am still struggling to figure out how I can explain what happened that weekend at South Carolina's Superhero Scramble when we went with little Tommy Mills and his family as he fulfilled a lifelong dream of participating in an obstacle race.
Originally, Ray and I weren't sure that I would be able to go. Although we helped with the fundraisers and the events leading up to the actual race, a trip like this can pose a significant financial burden on the people attending, and we just weren't sure how to make it work. In the end though, with the help of some amazing men and women whom I met through the preparations for this trip, we were able to make it all work out.
Travel to SC was via a 16 passenger van, accommodations were a shared small cabin at the campground. It was really late by the time we got to SC, and we had to be up really early the next morning for our Hero Within-Superman Walks Project team meeting. Here we finally met the infamous Zackary Paben (AKA Nubs) from More Hearts Than Scars, and learned about all of the equipment that we would be using to help make Tommy's dream a reality.
And so... now, I sit here in the comfort of my own home, not really knowing what to say or how to say it. This was an amazing, perspective altering experience with amazing new friends whom I am certain will remain friends for a lifetime. And once again, this event wasn't just about one person providing me with inspiration to keep moving and live my life to the fullest, this was about me inspiring MYSELF to keep going, keep pushing, and keep challenging myself.
Because this is probably one of those situations that you really have to be there to fully appreciate, I think the only way to really share what this experience was about, is through sharing this video and some photos below.
This is a photo of me with George, Thomas, Laura and Tristan Mills at the start line before the race. This is an amazing family, and really, Laura was the number one reason that I wanted to be at this event. As Thomas's mother and primary caregiver, and as an incredibly strong woman who rarely asks for help, she really had not had much opportunity to give the reigns to other people. There were a few times on the course where I knew she was having some difficulty and needed a little extra support and somehow I always managed to catch her eye to help reassure her. This woman is amazing, and her husband is pretty awesome too. As a side note, Tristan had broken his foot on vacation in early June, and was in a walking boot but still managed to walk with the group. He was such a trooper.
At one point, we had to climb over a cargo net to the top of what would be 2 stacked shipping containers. from there, we had to go across the net to another set of stacked shipping containers, and down the other side. I wanted to try my hand at balancing, and went across the center beam instead of crawling over the net... and although terrified, I was able to make it. I don't tend to have a fear of heights, but something about this obstacle really did it to me. My heart was beating out of my chest, and my breathing quickened to the point of needing my inhaler. It was truly terrifying. But not so terrifying that I couldn't stop for a photo of me being Mrs. SassyPants. See? Its exactly like that scene in Dirty Dancing, but totally different.
Once down on the ground again, the team prepared to bring little Tommy up and over the obstacle. In previous OCRs it was discovered that pulling on the bottom of the cargo netting would take out the slack on the nets making it easier for people to come down the obstacle. While part of the team was at the top of the obstacle getting Tommy up to the top and strapping him into the sled that he would use to traverse the netting, the rest of the team sat on the ground and dug in, working together as a team to pull the nets tight.
And once the nets were tight and Tommy was strapped into the sled, he was lowered down the side of the obstacle. I can't even explain the emotions that were just pouring out of me at that point. To see the smile on this little boy's face and know that this smile meant that he was not allowing his disability to limit him was SO inspirational.
There were other obstacles and other terrain, and about a million stories to share... and I could share them (when I fully get my head wrapped around them myself), but I don't think I want to. I (along with dozens of other people who I am sure will now be lifetime friends), were able to experience something amazing with this little boy, and I don't want to cheapen it in any way, shape, or form.
I go back through this post, and realize that my words don't do this experience justice. This experience brought new perspective on living life to the fullest, not accepting limitations, challenging expectations, and about trust and love:
I have one more photo to share down the line, but I have to save that for future day when we could all use a little extra inspiration.