One day. 30.1 miles.
One 30,000 reasons.
My phone alarm was set for 4:45 Saturday morning so I could hike 20 miles with the group at seven. As planned the alarm went off and as planned I hauled my butt out of bed, proceeding to fill my pack and get dressed (a little begrudgingly might I admit). I finally headed out the door at 5:45 to head to the trailhead that was 52 minutes away as I am notorious for getting lost!
As I was driving down the highway the sun was rising and every song on the radio was making me cry. No kidding, Martina McBride’s ‘God’s Will’ came on, I cried, someone else’s song about corn came on and I cried some more – I was a hot mess. I turned off the radio and got to thinking about why in the world would I get up and drive an hour to encounter ticks, snakes, and quite probably worse forms of wildlife.
I wanted the physical challenge of hiking 30 miles in one day sure but with that opportunity to push my body came the chance to fundraise for one of the most amazing nonprofit organizations I have ever had the chance to be a part of – The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – and that’s why I was up, ready to hike.
What is Cystic Fibrosis?
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects the mucus membranes in the body and creates excess phlegm making life for the individual difficult and often times cut all too short. 30,000 adults and children live with CF everyday, taking 35 to 40 pills a day and spending up to 18 hours doing various treatments. By the end of September 14, 2013 I’m going to have a minuscule glimpse of how exhausting a day with CF might be like.
To learn more about CF I encourage you check out the national website!
Hiking for Allen:
The first time I ever heard cystic fibrosis I was on the phone with my now husband and he was telling me about his best friend and how awesome he was. Stephen (my now husband) had been friend’s with Allen since junior high, they had always played sports and been active together even throughout high school. Allen was sick fairly often and had been in and out of the hospital pretty frequently throughout the years, never knowing or understanding what kept coming back to bite him. Eventually during yet another impromptu stay in the hospital a nurse practitioner had a hunch about what we know now was so the doctor sent blood work to the lab to specifically test for cystic fibrosis, sure enough that was it. Why it hadn’t been caught years before is still a mystery, possibly Allen had had a false false on his tests as a child and no one else had thought to check because of how active he had been as a child or cystic fibrosis was still not very well known. Either way this diagnoses brought both hope and despair to his family, they finally knew what kept putting their otherwise active child in the hospital but were faced with the reality of an average life expectancy of 37 and a half. Allen was 16.
Allen actually came into my life as he was turning 22, I met him late one evening when Stephen took me out to play basketball with the boys late one evening in their hometown. Everyone was nice and to be honest Allen or anyone else really didn’t stand out, they were just boys out there having a good time. It wasn’t until I saw Allen next time it became apparent to me just how devastating of a disease he was living with every single day. It was only a few months later when the same group of friends were gathered at Allen’s place to play video games when he looked emaciated and the light that was in his eyes was dimmer than I had ever seen. He had just come back from the hospital and had to lay in bed or sit in a chair to be able to even to just chat. I would go on see Allen the next few months after that and each time he would only be weaker. I also watched the fight slowly slip from my husband as well, each time we would visit Allen it was like a little bit of Stephen would stay behind each time.
The last time I saw Allen he was on the couch of parents home, a puppy pad beneath him and covered in blankets. IVs were in his arm and his wrists were so thin that I could close my fist around them if I had not been afraid to break his bones. That’s as close to death as I had ever been. Stephen and I stayed with Allen about an hour while he drifted in and out of consciousness that day and I knew the only reason he was still here was because God gave him a purpose and Allen refused to give up so easily. Despite being where most would consider the bottom Allen had to prove one more time that God gave him grace and the will to live.
My husband asked me to stay home the last time he went to see his best friend, they needed alone time and I could respect that. An emergency trip was made with Allen’s last wish in hand – the Avenger’s DVD – June 2012. Most of the same group I had met in the beginning was there to watch The Avenger’s with Allen as he was enjoying the last moments of his life. Less than 24 hours later Allen and God had made a truce and Allen’s mission on Earth was completed on June 6, 2012.
I am so blessed to have had a chance to get to know Allen and be able to hike for him and the other 30,000 adults and children who live every day with cystic fibrosis. Not only have I been able to hike under the Foundation I was also given the opportunity to volunteer at the local St. Louis office which has allowed me to meet many CF families and be a part of this fantastic organization so if anyone has any questions go ahead and ask! If I can’t answer your question I am happy to find you someone who can! If anyone is interested in getting involved with your local chapter fine one here, if you feel compelled to give (over 90 cents of your every dollar goes directly to research) click here , or are interested in seeing the list of the events around St. Louis check them out here!
Thank you so much for reading!
The rest of the week:
After my original fitness watch went kaput I did order a Garmin 910XT – heck yes I did! Hopefully it will be in by next Tuesday. (:
Started class this past week (I’m in college) and am excited to see what this semester has in store!
AND my big kid bag of ENERGYbits came in Monday!
Have a great week guys!!