Run for your life
Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted 2011 4Kay Run/Walk
As I was debating on running in the 4Kay Run/Walk, I was hesitant at first. The Indy chill would be looming at 7 a.m. on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the thought of running in 37 degree weather without sneaking a workout in the past few days made me think perhaps it wasn’t the best idea.
Then I thought about what this event stood for to me personally. As a fundraiser for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, the 4Kay Run/Walk touches us all in some way. We are each survivors in our own regard as we journey through life. We have a survival story -- whether it is cancer, sickness, loss, divorce, abuse, and the list goes on.
“I think that was one of Coach Yow’s messages,” said Stephanie Glance, past president of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and Illinois State head women’s basketball coach. “Her disease happened to be cancer, but she spoke many times about people who had difficulty in life and everyone has to face adversity and obstacles, and I do think that things like this give people hope and courage and it also encourages people.”
Decisively, I laced up my running shoes and bundled up for the run. Not only for a cause that I hold very dearly being heavily involved in the late Kay Yow’s vision for her foundation from the start, but also for a cause that makes me a survivor in my own way.
“I think all of us are faced with some sort of adversity, whether it’s cancer or any sort of adversity,” said Sue Donohoe, NCAA Division I vice president of women’s basketball. “I think folks can identify with Coach Yow and her fight and I think everybody out here has had some fight of their own whether it’s illness or personal matters.”
I clipped on my race bib, stretched and joined over 1,100 other participants at the starting line. The renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway encircled us. How fitting it was to be running for a purpose greater than ourselves in the ‘greatest spectacle in racing.’
“I don’t know if I have words to describe it. I think I probably get as emotional on this morning as I do on any other time during the Final Four because I’m watching the sun come up, I’m watching all these folks come out at the world’s greatest racing speedway and it’s a phenomenal feeling. It’s rewarding,” Donohoe said.
As I jogged around the track, I began to think about how symbolic the run was to adversities in life. Some may have to slow down and walk. Some may be out of breath. Some may grow tired. But it’s inevitable that the finish line is ahead.
I rounded the final curve onto the straightaway with that finish line finally in sight. For some, that ending symbolizes the hope of a new start, a new chapter in life and the healing of scars. And for others, like Coach Yow, the finish line is the unfortunate loss of a life that meant so much, to so many. Because of the way she lived her life, her legacy and her impact continue to live on in events such as this, that rally people for a cause greater than themselves to make a difference.
“There are some coaches here simply because of Kay,” said Marsha Sharp, Kay Yow Cancer Fund executive director. “They will do whatever we need wherever just to support her cause and the things she was about and her vision.”
I crossed the finish line recalling the very first 4Kay Run/Walk, in which Coach Yow was in attendance. She was battling cancer at the time, but would not leave the finish line until she had high-fived every single participant in the race. She was a cheerleader and supporter for others, despite battling a disease that took her own life.
And that’s what we as survivors must do. Once we’ve made it to our own personal finish line, we have to reflect, move forward and give back. Find our own way to make a difference in the lives of others who are still pounding the pavement in search of their own destination.
I grabbed some water and watched the rest of the runners and walkers see the checkered flag waved signaling their finish. And I think, I survived. Not necessarily the race that I just finished and not necessarily cancer, but I am a survivor. And I run to celebrate that.
One of my favorite Coach Yow sayings was, “Never let the urgent get in the way of the important.” That’s what the 1,100-plus people represented today.