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Profiles in Courage

After two days of board meetings and tons of other activities I was exhausted.  But I ran to the airport and jumped on an 8:15 flight last night, arriving in St. Louis just before 10:00.  A shuttle bus to the car rental place, then an hour and a half drive to check in to the Sleepy Inn, just around midnight.  I had to get up at 6:00 so I could arrive at 7:00 at the site of a run/walk event.

This event is Melanoma Miles for Mike, and the event is an amazing thing to see.  Mike was a lifeguard and was in his 20’s when he was diagnosed with melanoma.  It had already spread to other parts of his body and he didn’t respond to treatment.  He left behind his young wife, Beth.  Before he died he asked his friends and family to join in the fight against melanoma, and they have done that in a big way.  This year they raised $20,000 for melanoma research, bringing the 5-year total to $100,000.  Equally important – they do the event at a local high school and many of the volunteers and participants are teenagers.  Every year these teenagers hear about sun safety and the dangers of melanoma. 

Before and after the event a big group of folks clustered together.  They all wore shirts with the phrase “Jogging for Jill.”  Jill was 41 when she died, just a year ago.  Her husband and their young son ran in the race. 

Another group had on yellow shirts.  They were supporting a young woman with two toddlers—her melanoma was found early and she has just gotten clean scans.

I met a man who is fighting his third recurrence, with tumors in his liver and lungs.  He just started a new drug last week.

And a woman who had multiple tumors—all small—and has now been tumor-free for seven years!  She was there with her two grandchildren, who have lived the majority of their lives knowing their grandmother survived cancer.

I ran my 5k loop, up and down the hills of Washington, MO.  I spent a few hours meeting people and talking about melanoma.  Now I am passing my Saturday evening in an airport, hoping to get home by 10:00 tonight. 

I haven’t caught up on sleep, but am not so tired any more.  These brave men and women—the patients, the families, the friends—they are a true inspiration.  They are the very image of courage and strength.  In the face of such burning passion, who needs sleep?