March 1, 2014
The Heart and Sole 5K was run in the memory of Alexandria Danielle Romeo. 09-3-1990 – 11-23-2011. All proceeds from this race were donated to epilepsy research. Rest in peace Danielle. You can learn more about her life and events held in her name to fund further research for the treatment of epilepsy here http://livewithaheartforedanielle.com/.
Before the race began Danielle’s mom welcomed and thanked the participating racers and walkers who all came out to support finding a treatment for epilepsy. Her daughter Danielle, died from a seizure in 2011.
Right before we started, Danielle’s best friend released doves to guide and protect us through the race course.
It was a very touching and moving tribute.
The race was held in Lakeway,TX which is a very beautiful, but VERY hilly part of town. As we drove in, up and down, up and down, over the many, many hills we knew that there may not be much running during this race.
Kekoa decided that he was going to run and walk the entire race. He did not want to ride in the stroller at all.
He decided that at the beginning. And then quickly changed his mind once we began.
Running is hard. It’s not easy when you start. At all. It takes persistent practice and a positive attitude that you CAN do it. That you WILL do it and that it will get easier as you progress.
As soon as we started Kekoa started to give up and I reminded him of this.
We’ve told him that we will go at his pace. We will go as fast or as slow as he wants and that when he needs to walk we will walk with him.
I wasn’t the one who decided that he was going to run with us from now on.
He decided that.
The last two races that we did he wanted to run and then he quickly began to defeat himself shortly afterwards.
I repeated our promise to help him through and go at his pace.
He didn’t want to listen to me as the tears began to fill his eyes and he began his mantra of “I can’t”.
“You CAN Kekoa. You can. I know you can. It’s hard and it hurts and it takes a while to get into shape. It was and is STILL hard for me sometimes. All I ask is that you try. That’s it. I just don’t want you to give up because your mind is telling you that you can’t. You cannot just give up in life when things get hard. You keep going and you get through it. Just keep going.” We’re walking side by side and I can see that he really doesn’t want to give up. He just doesn’t have the self-confidence to know that he can get through it.
I know this feeling all too well.
I know what it feels like to feel like you can’t make it. Like the weight is too great and the pain is too much and it would just be soooooo much easier to give up.
I know this… because this is what I felt when Oli was born.
I know what it feels like to honestly believe that you will never make it through.
I know that running and giving birth to a child with disabilities is different.
But the lesson is the same.
I can use my experience about life and a positive attitude and pushing through the tough times to teach my son to do the same.
Even if to him, it’s only finishing a tough 5K, it’s still an opportunity to teach him how to live.
It’s a lesson that cannot be learned in one race.
But it is a lesson that I will repeat as long as he is willing to try.
And he did.
He felt defeated and tired. It was hard and frustrating.
And at the end, not only did he finish, but he finished helping his dad to push the heavy stroller up a hill.
By the time we finished it was an hour later and Oli was DONE and Ginger was DONE and Kekoa was DONE and Seth and I were ELATED that we were almost to the finish line.
It was not the best race that we have ever done together, but it was one of the most valuable.
I learned to be more patient with my son and to give him the positive encouragement that he needs.
Kekoa learned that he can complete an entire 5K ALL BY HIMSELF.
Soon after we walked over the finish line, the tears and frustration were forgotten and he was proud of himself.
He really was proud that he had done something that many 8 years old had not done.
He was proud because he finished and he DID NOT GIVE UP.
He was proud because, as much as he wanted to, he did not sit his butt in that stroller. He just didn’t.
I was proud of him.
As the day wore on and I thought back over our race, the prouder I became of my son.
This race was run for Oli, but it was all about Kekoa.
And he’s excited to do it again.