Wednesday, November 23, 2011
A time of year to be thankful, and inspired…
Every year at this time we are reminded of the things we are thankful for – family, friends, health, good fortune; this year in addition to all of these things, I am thankful for something else – Team Lemon. It may sound odd, to be thankful for an athletic team, but as we all know, Team Lemon is so much more than that. It’s a way for athletes of all calibers to raise awareness and funds for the battle against childhood cancer. Here’s the story of how I accidentally fell into being a member of Team Lemon and how during this season of giving thanks, I find myself being thankful for something I didn’t see coming.
Many of us have been inspired by the story of Alexandra “Alex” Scott, her courage in the face of adversity, and her selflessness when while battling her own cancer she literally stood up for other children facing the same plight. I was not immune to this inspiration, it’s the reason I moved to Philadelphia and have dedicated nearly four years of my life to spreading Alex’s mission, the amazing work of volunteers, sponsors and supporters and the brave stories of childhood cancer fighters. What I perhaps did not anticipate was being inspired by another member of the Scott family, Jay Scott, Alex’s dad. It was in early May of this year that Jay challenged members of the ALSF staff to participate in the Broad Street Run as part of Team Lemon. At the time, the thought of me running a 10 mile race was laughable and improbable at best. If you asked members of my softball team, I often complained about running to first base – fortunately for me, I’m not a great softball player so I barely ever had to run further than that! However, for the purposes of ALSF and in support of kids fighting cancer who inspire me every day, I agreed and told myself (and everyone else) that I would simply walk. Somewhere along the line though, things took an unexpected turn and I decided to accept Jay’s challenge and try to run. What transpired next was a complete shock - I found myself actually enjoying the process and accomplishing things I didn’t think were possible. First it was simply being able to jog half a mile, then a mile, then five; to me, it was a miracle of sorts.
I am proud to say that I completed the Broad Street in 1 hour and 37 minutes and to my surprise when the opportunity presented itself to run the half marathon in Philadelphia as part of Team Lemon, I jumped at it. It was unbelievable to think that in 2010 getting up early to cheer on my coworkers at the marathon was a challenge and this year I’d be running it. However, there I was, raising money for the Foundation and gearing up to run 13.1 miles.
Being a part of Team Lemon has taught me a great deal about life and the limits we set for ourselves. Additionally, it’s shown me so much more than just what I am personally capable of – it’s also provided me with an example of what we are all capable of when we pull together. As Alex knew long before I did, when we combine our efforts, we can do anything. Whether it’s simply pushing ourselves to accomplish things we thought once impossible or becoming part of a team to put an end to childhood cancer, the possibilities are endless.
When Team Lemon gathered at our tent prior to the race this past Sunday, I met some other first time half marathon runners who had been inspired by Alex’s courage, and the courage of so many other children battling cancer. We all agreed that the physical strain we were about to put ourselves through on Sunday though not a cake walk, would be nothing compared to the battles that young children facing cancer experience. For me, reaching mile 13.1 was a huge accomplishment, and with the thousands of steps I took that day, I knew they wouldn’t be my last steps to contribute to the battle against childhood cancer. I’ll be back next year as part of Team Lemon, and probably the year after that. It has been a wonderful experience, and one I am surprisingly thankful for this year. I’d recommend it to anyone, if I can do it, you can do it too.
- Gillian Kocher