I would walk 500 miles (and I would walk 500 more)
This post started out as a reply to “Tell Me About Your JDRF Walk” on Arden’s Day, but (in my typical fashion) rambled on and on until it warranted a blog post of its own. And seeing as how I’ve been kind of light on material lately, why not find my blogging inspiration from another blogger? (who has an awesome first name, by the way!!)
To be honest, this year will only be my third walk. I didn’t do any diabetes walking, or any fundraising at all for that matter, in my first 29 years of diabetes. But in the 30th year, I learned that a neighbor in my new neighborhood had T1 and would be walking, so I joined her team. Part of it was about being neighborly. Part about it was curiosity. Part of it was looking for people to socialize and connect with. And yes, I figured it’s time I do something (other than hope) to help us achieve diabetes nirvana.
The walk was at the County College of Morris — a semi-rural community college campus in the hills of northwestern New Jersey. I figured it would be relatively small because of the location: hard to get to, and not much when you’re there. It was a charted course through campus walkways and around parking lots. A stark contrast from the walk I would participate in the following year.
Before the walk, we assembled in a building where a generous breakfast was served (thank you Coca-Cola and Quick Chek!) Those who were on larger teams would take the corridor to the left and find their team’s table in one of the big multipurpose rooms, those not on a large team would take the corridor to the right to get their standard-issue “Walk to Cure Diabetes” T-shirts were issued. The space was somewhat cramped, and didn’t quite allow me to get a feel for just how many people were there.
I had expected this would end up being a social gathering for T1Ds. This expectation left me disappointed at first. Everyone I spoke to was there on behalf of their cousin or their niece, or because JDRF was the chosen philanthropy of their employer (thank you Skanska!). I don’t recall speaking to a single person who said that the main T1D in their lives was themselves. This member of Sergeant Pepper’s Lazy Pancreas Club Band couldn’t quite break free from the Lonely Hearts implication, (no, that’s not the name of my team, but I hereby reserve the right to use that name in the future) and eventually I yielded to the truth that I wouldn’t be socializing with people like me.
But as walkers began to line up behind the ribbon in preparation for the big event (and my team scurried to get a quick team photo in beforehand), I craned my neck and saw lots and lots of people. And then lots more. I’d speculate that 95% of them did not have diabetes, but the were there anyway. They were there not for themselves, but for others — for people like me.
That was empowering. Seeing the crowd who was there — not for themselves, but for others — made it even more meaningful. Admittedly, my reasons for being there were – to an extent – selfish. Most of the others’ reasons were not. They were there for all the right reasons.
So, yeah, we raised some money for a great cause, but more importantly – my first walk helped to bolster my sense of importance and self-worth. It made me feel good. Over 330 pairs of feet were walking for a combined distance of over 1000 miles. And on that day, that was worth more than anything else.
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This year, I’ll once again be joining d-blogger SurfaceFine and walking for JDRF with Alecia’s Stem Cells. As is typical in New York, a mob is expected — and so is a battle with bikers on the path over the Brooklyn Bridge — but it’s still a unique experience. Maybe next year I’ll go back to the County College of Morris, though it can never be the same as the first time. Or maybe I’ll support Team Hoffmanderson. Karen‘s got a kick-ass spirit too, and is in the the same walk in NYC. Maybe I’ll stick with ASC, or participate in more than one walk. Who knows? But I’ll worry about next year in 2014. Right now, let’s just show our support, not just with our monetary presents but with our physical presence, because that can lift one’s spirits like you couldn’t believe.
Or maybe you can…