Today we've got something a little different….
If you've met me for longer than 15 minutes, you've heard me mention my college roommates. I lived with Carissa, Lindsay and Allison for 4 years, in the dorms, apartments and one very wonky old house. They've been my confidantes, my advisors, and my mirror.
We got to know and love each other's parents, visited each other's homes and formed strong attachments (I helped C's mom build her first website! I still rave about L's mom's hashbrown casserole! A's dad explained “joint finances” in a marriage to me!) I love these girls and their families.
Allison's dad, Mark Van Sickle passed in 2008, surrounded by his family, after battling cancer since 1999.
When I heard, I was 6 hours away from my friend. I spent the whole day at my office job with my door closed, crying. We were just 20-something. We were far too young to lose our parents! The roomates all met up at the funeral and sat there stunned, wanting to help, knowing we couldn't, our hearts breaking for our friend and her family.
In case I had any doubt, cancer sucks. It is an unfair, ridiculous, heart-breaking disaster. One that has struck some of you, and your families.
When Al emailed me that she was doing an Obliteride to raise money for cancer research, I wanted to do more than just donate. I wanted to take the opportunity to share her story and listen to yours. Our community is full of the chronically ill, the cancer survivors, and those that have lost their parents too young. I'm routinely amazed at your perseverance, at your grit, and at your vulnerability with sharing your stories. Allison's is just one story among many, but it's a place to start. Here's a bit of her story…
(images throughout are from Al's training rides)
My dad bought me my first bike. I was about 5 I had been sharing my older brother's bike because I didn't have one. After dinner one night my dad told my mom “Allison and I are going to the store to get milk”. Instead of going to the grocery store my dad drove across town to Toys R Us and when we walked in he just said “pick one” and I, as a 5 year old in footed pajamas, got to ride bikes around Toys R Us at 9 pm on a school night to pick out my very first bike.
I, of course, chose a bright pink one with purple wheels and a purple seat. No basket, no streamers just a hardcore bike that could do what all the boys bikes could but still look adorable.
When I decided to play softball (about 7 or 8) my dad was super excited because he didn't have to attend anymore dace recitals. The first year I went out I was right in the middle of the pack with everyone else, nothing special, kind of slow and confused. The next year they were watching me during try outs and I was killing it. She said they both looked at each other and were like “where did that come from!?” To which my dad replied “Well, she obviously gets that from me.” 😉
My dad was my biggest supporter and challenger in any competition I entered. He encouraged me to focus more on character than attention. Whether it was not crying or throwing a bat or glove after striking out, or missing a fly ball, or continuing to cheer for my teammates even if we are losing 15-0. I don't care how far behind you are – you can still try.
As I became a CrossFit athlete and coach
, I take those lessons he taught me and use them when I'm working out and pass them on to my clients (or try). I decided to do Obliteride because I have arthritis in my knee and I can't run anymore (so 5K's and triathlon's are out). I have been looking for something to commit to for raising money for cancer research since he passed away 5 years ago and haven't found anything. When Obliteride popped up, I remembered that night when he took me to get my bike and how close I feel to him when I'm riding.
I know a lot of people also loved my dad and wouldn't mind donating in his memory either. I just never imagined that this many people would give so much of their hard earned cash. Training has been a lot of fun and I know that he would be extremely touched by the commitment I've made and the donations made in his memory.
I'm excited to commit to something again and be in “training”. It is fun and helps me push myself.
I want to help raise money for cancer research, that's all. That's why I'm doing this. I know what I am doing is a tiny drop in the bucket but if even so, it will help. And if I can do something, anything, to help prevent a family from experiencing the pain and heartache mine did, then I will do it. No one, young or old, father or mother, wife, husband, child, friend should EVER have to lose someone to such an annoying and hateful disease.