My first homemade tank jersey had white iron-on letters that read “I Run for KT” on the back. Rachel helped me with this artistic creation. I wore that red jersey in almost every marathon I ran for Team CF.
I was twelve years old when Katie was born. This 12 year age difference creates an incredibly wonderful and unique sister relationship. I remember every detail of Katie’s childhood. I remember the tears that came to my eyes when I first held her. I remember how her full head of dark, dark hair looked when she was first brought into our lives, and how bleached blonde it became by the time she was 2 years old. I remember the song I would sing to Katie as I rocked her to sleep – a version of Edelweiss where I changed the lyrics to how I felt about Katie Rose. I remember her first word – “More.” I remember what Katie’s first laugh sounded like. I remember the expression on the stranger’s face in the elevator of Dr. Kennington’s office when Katie smiled at him – how much Katie’s vibrant personality, even as just a toddler, brightened people’s days. I remember proudly watching every move of Katie’s Broadway debut as one of the four audience members they interview and pick in New York City’s production of “The Annual Putnam Spelling Bee.” We joked for a long time that she beat her big sister to Broadway. I remember Katie’s 13th birthday party, where she and her buddies (along with all of their moms and our Mom) flew out to visit me in NYC. I remember Katie’s freshman orientation at Nerinx Hall High School. She started Nerinx as a freshman the same year I started working in Nerinx’s advancement department. I got to see Katie’s life in the hallways…….her friends who love her like sisters love……..the teachers who adore her………
I remember the little Pocahontas doll that I tearfully offered my baby sister as she lay in the Intensive Care Unit of St. John’s hospital. I remember the many nights of pounding 3 year old Katie’s chest, sides, and back as part of her CF treatment. I remember the helplessness I felt in my Hell’s Kitchen bedroom in New York City when Katie had to spend five days in the hospital for a tune-up. It killed me that I wasn’t there to visit her or help make the hospital a more happy place. I remember the embarrassment I felt that first Thanksgiving coming back to St. Louis after months of feeding my depression in New York City. The sweatpants I had to wear because my jeans no longer fit and I was too in denial to buy new clothes was a reminder of my failure. And I remember the shift I felt as I jogged alongside Katie and Little Uncle Thanksgiving morning, the endorphin rush, feeling so inspired by Katie that I returned to NYC to sign up for my first marathon.
I remember crossing the finish line of the Chicago Marathon after raising my first $7,500 for CF. I ran for Katie. And running for Katie brought me back to life. The next three marathons I ran for Katie. She is always in my heart and is the person who I would run halfway across the country for.
I left St. Louis on July 21, set out to run to NYC for Katie, for my sister who means everything to me. And then my world widened. Suddenly, I was connecting in such a deep way with people I met throughout the 65 days, and my list of who I run for began to grow. The names would not all fit on my red tank jersey. I run for Trey. I run for Austin. I run for Lisa. I run for Renee. I run for Chelsea. I run for Alex. I run for Sean. I run for Emmett. I run for Inka. I run for Rachel. I run for Megan. I run for Caiden. I run for Nicci. And so many more………… And Katie, the love of my life, I run for you.
Today was a grand adventure. Mike and I got a 15 minute late start, but if we ran strong like we did yesterday, we would still make it to the Metlife Stadium on time. It turned out to be not as easy as we had hoped. The running was right on – we were keeping a fast 8:20 pace, but the many confusing turns in the directions, with the many unmarked road signs, led to a circus of frustration and panic (I hate being late to things.) Poor Mike saw a version of me that usually only the ones I love the most and are closest to me are allowed to see. I was in rare form. I felt like a dog chasing its tail. We got turned around so many times it was ridiculous. Cars were racing by, and I was in a state of crazy panic and determination. I was at battle with the road, and my legs were fierce. We finally arrived to the stadium, just 15 minutes late (fashionably I suppose).
My crazed spirit calmed down as soon as I saw Bill in the golf cart, patiently awaiting our arrival at the entrance to the stadium. I ran alongside the golf cart, as Will, an amazing photographer, snapped photos of me. I was huffing and puffing, but finally made it to the stadium. Then, Bill sent me off to run through the tunnel, just as the NFL players do before a game. The transition between the dark tunnel and the beautiful bright light of the stadium was phenomenal. And the people! There must have been 100 people gathered around the different corners of the field, cheering me on as I ran a lap around the field. I was being recorded on the huge video boards, and the exhilaration and adrenaline was so powerful that when I looked down at my GPS watch, I saw that I was running a 6:20 pace. I felt like the King of the World. At the end of my lap, Bill, my giant, my fairy godfather, had his arms wide open and I ran in for the kind of hug that stays with you for the rest of the day. I had the great pleasure of meeting Mark Lamping, the CEO of Metlife Stadium, and the former President of the St. Louis Cardinals! Mark is from St. Louis, and I was delighted to hear he was a Vianney boy. We talked St. Louis chat for awhile, before the crowds gathered, and I then spoke for about 15 minutes about Run for Roses. My 9 News interviewed me, which aired tonight.
The rest of the day was surreal and wonderful. Liz, one of my very best friends, who lives in Manhattan, met me at the end of the run to give me a big hug. Seeing her a block away from the finish of Day 64 was goosebump-giving. She jumped up and down in her cowboy boots with such excitement, cheering Run for Roses and blowing her fabulous green kazoo! I was hooting and hollering and laughing, and I’m sure people thought we were nuts, but I didn’t care. It felt great. And then I got the second hug for the day that I can still very much feel.
I will have very sweet dreams tonight.