NYC Marathon — No. 3 in Bob’s life’s best moments

The Team Fox 5 approach the mile 23 cheering section.
The Team Fox 5 approach the mile 23 cheering section.

Almost two years ago, I met a man through the Michael J Fox Foundation mentor program named John Ryan. I was immediately drawn to him because of his outgoing personality. I don’t know if John has ever met a stranger. Needless to say we became friends, and now call each other “my brother from another mother.” John was running his first half marathon right after we first met which was a challenge for him. Somewhere along the way John began talking about running in the NYC marathon. I told him if he crazy enough to do it I would be there to support him.

Well, he was crazy enough and last weekend I found myself in NYC along with Cecily and Kate (Emily was not able to join us because of work). My promise to John not only was being fulfilled, but Kate had pitched an offer to the Foundation to take pictures of the event, which included bringing Jason Plotkin, an Emmy award winning photo journalist, and his wife Melissa. So instead of just being there to see John, we were included in the Fox Foundation weekend race plans.

This weekend rates number three in my life’s best moments, only after marrying my wife, Cecily, and the birth of our twins. Sorry hole-in-one you weren’t even close. It wasn’t because we were in close proximity to Michael J Fox, his family, and members of the cast from his new television show, but it is because we were part of a large community of people with a common cause — the cure for Parkinson’s disease. Within this group there is an intense bonding process that goes well beyond normal friendships. There is no single hero, but hundreds of friends supporting the runners and thousands more who weren’t there physically, but were in spirit. Sure, the runners were running for themselves, but many of them had the name of the person they were running for in their pocket or on their shirts. What they may not have realized prior to the race was that they were running for all of us in the Parkinson’s community.

Bob and John embrace at mile 23.
Bob and John embrace at mile 23.

At our cheering section, we spent the day cheering for those we knew and those we didn’t know. We laughed, yelled and even shed a tear or two (buckets). There were moments of understanding that we can do more, and there were moments of pride in our friends who were running, but the realization of the power of the relationships we had and were building was overwhelming. This experience that I had was happening on every block of the race. Not for Parkinson’s but for many different reasons. On one side trip (to find a restroom), I even heard a spectator yell “go runners.”

There were two moments in the day that stand out in my mind, as really special. The first was when John Ryan, Tim Ryan, Sue Bilotta, Gwen Schroeder, and AJ Capuzzi (a neighbor of John’s who was not a runner, but offered to join him) reached our cheering section. The police had done a great job of keeping spectators off the street, until then.  Grown men cried and hugged (not me of course- any pictures to the contrary are photo shopped), beautiful sweaty women warriors were embraced and high-fived, husbands were congratulated by their family (eventually). All of it was captured on tape until the camera woman (Kate) was drawn into the celebration. Here’s the video, but as a warning, bring a Kleenex.

The second moment was when Mike Kelly, a new friend of mine, reached us. He had started later and it was getting cold (actually colder) and dark. He was freezing cold and tired, but he was determined. Before he reached the surging crowd, Michael J Fox met him with a hug and joined him to finish the race. As they took off up the street both Mikes broke into a run. Yep, a second bucket of tears. When I saw Mike Kelly after the race, at the post race party, his hands were so cold that I gave him my hand warmers (which were harder than if I had to give up my wife). This moment was not about the fact that Michael J Fox joined him, it was about his determination to finish and that people were there to support him, whether they  were famous or not.

A well-deserved toast by Mike Kelly to the Team Fox marathon runners.
A well-deserved toast by Mike Kelly to the Team Fox marathon runners.

I know this feel good feeling will diminish over time, but not by much. It will lift me up when I am down. It will remind me if I think I can, then I can (think/able). I hope it will do the same for you. I can always go to the website and watch for a couple of minutes and be right back there.

Oh I forgot to mention John and Mike have Parkinson’s.

Last but not least, the big reveal- I will NOT be running in next year’s race- these guys and girls are crazy!

TWO SHOES ON AGAIN

Advertisements

About bobharmon49

Parkinson’s Cure Research Funding, Inc. (“PCRF”) was founded in November, 2010 as a non-profit corporation dedicated to raising money for Parkinson’s disease research and patient support. The corporation’s main fundraising event is an annual golf tournament held in April at the Lake Ashton community in Winter Haven and Lake Wales, Florida. Proceeds from the event have been donated to the Michael J Fox Foundation. Prior to forming PCRF the first golf tournament was held in April 2009 and we raised $12,000. The second tournament in April 2010 raised $27,000. Our next tournament will be held on April 7, 2012. At each of the first two golf outings, 215 players filled the two 18 hole golf courses at Lake Ashton. PCRF was founded by Bob and Cecily Harmon. Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2006 and is still very active playing golf and working to help find a cure for PD through fund-raising. He has recently been named to the Southwest Florida Regional Council of the Michael J Fox Foundation. Their mission is to drive ideas about local engagement opportunities to increase Parkinson’s Disease awareness, enhance education efforts and connect with untapped resources to develop the overall expansion of the Fox Foundation in Florida. The Harmon’s facilitate the Lake Ashton Parkinson’s Outreach Group which supports local Parkinson’s patients and their care partners. The group meets on the first Friday of every month at 10am at Lake Ashton and is open to the Parkinson’s community in the general public.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s