I was standing on the same stage I had delivered a high school graduation speech from just three years prior, but this time for a very different reason. Thousands of people in our community were gathered to mourn. Sadly, Ramie Harris, along with her father, Ray, and sister, Shey, passed away on Saturday, November 26, 2011 in a plane accident. The whole family has always been prominent in our community, but I knew Ramie especially well as we had been long time teammates and friends. I found the card Ramie gave me for graduation, and it ended with this verse from Romans 12, "Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in times of trouble and always be prayerful". Ramie offered this years ago, but her way of encouraging then is applicable even today. Ramie excelled in the area of life that was most important to her. Ramie's life was truly characterized by her pursuit of Jesus, and it was contagious to those around her. I was so encouraged by Ramie's faith, and especially after her unexpected death, I felt motivated to keep her memory alive.
Tamara Barrett and her dear friend Ramie Harris
Ramie and I had played soccer and tennis together in high school, and once we entered college we each sought new athletic competitions such as half marathons and triathlons.
Because we both loved to challenge ourselves physically, it seemed fitting to honor Ramie by training for a new goal, a full marathon.
My past hesitation in completing a full marathon was the lack of a cause for which I felt committed enough to run. Ramie's life, short but so fully lived, gave me the inspiration to take on the feat of running this 26.2 mile race. I knew Ramie would have been right there beside me and I wanted to complete the race as a tribute to her life and in honor of her family. For this reason, I chose to dedicate my training and race experience to fundraising for the Ramie Harris Memorial Scholarship Fund through the Community Foundation.
It has been incredibly humbling to experience the community support over the last few months. Truly, it was a great encouragement to be able to spend time with Ramie's mom whether we were strategizing fundraising efforts, talking about Ramie, or just catching up on life. In addition, another community member, Bethany, who knew Ramie at a younger age agreed to run alongside me in support of Running for Ramie. We created t-shirts printed by the local Indianapolis company the Art Press, and all proceeds went to the fund. Thanks to the joys of spending time with Mrs. Harris, gaining a running partner, and receiving endless support from those who knew and loved Ramie, I was very ready by the time race day rolled around!
I felt excited and at peace when I reached the start line. I had trained since July for this day, and could not have been happier to finally have this opportunity. Through the rain and the hail, my desire to run remained. I was blessed to have so many supporters cheering me on throughout the race, and taking care of me after I crossed the finish line. The whole process had been very healing, and completing the race definitely did represent a time of unprecedented accomplishment in my life of 21 years. I know Ramie would have been proud. While I did run for myself, I ran more so for all of the friends and family who, like me, miss Ramie dearly. She was such an inspiring young woman whose life continues to impact me today. Her life has motivated me to do many wonderful things I may not have otherwise, and I am proud that her story could also be the passion of my Monumental Marathon experience.