When I started a new job a couple of years ago, my office was just feet from Nevada's. When fellow employees found out that I ran, they would tell me that I needed to talk to Nevada. "She's a runner!" they told me. It turns out that they were telling her the same thing about me. Eventually we got a run in together and things took off from there. We were very compatible - both of us were working moms, loved running and loved to laugh.
We set a goal of completing 12 marathons in 2012, jumping in with gumption. However, as we started training we both felt that something was missing. It just didn't seem right to take on this kind of goal and not do something bigger with it.
We each tossed around ideas but nothing really hit home. Then, in February, we watched a video that Brian Day had posted on Facebook. We immediately knew that we had found a cause that we truly wanted to support and communicate. Brian had been a friend of mine since kindergarten and quickly became friends with Nevada.
Brian was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in August of 2009. He is fairly young at 42 and has a family that includes 2 boys. ALS is a terminal disease with a life expectancy of just 3-5 years after diagnosis and it didn't seem fair that this would happen to someone like Brian.
Brian Day and Family
Brian's video showed the help that his ALS Association Chapter had given him. He demonstrated his power wheelchair and the tools that allowed him to use the computer. He did this with an incredible sense of gratitude and humor. Watching the video, you noticed not his disease, but his amazing spirit.
We asked Brian if he would be ok with our running on his behalf and where he thought the funds should go. Being as crazy as us, he jumped on board and Team One Day was formed. Brian thought the funds should go to the ALS Association Chapters for family assistance - to thank them for the help they've given him and also to help them continue to provide support to others. What a great idea!
We started the year by running the Last Chance for Boston Marathon on 2/26, followed by the Circular Logic Marathon at the end of March. Both of these runs were on a one mile loop that we ran 26.2 times. We had One Day shirts made up and immediately received an incredible amount of publicity. People began asking us about the project and Brian and telling us their stories about ALS.
In April, we ran the Martian Marathon in freezing rain, followed by the Boston Marathon two days later in record heat. Also in April, friends who are a local fitness trainer and running/triathlon coach came up with the idea to hold "workout in the park" as a fundraising event. They donated their time and the event was a great success, raising over $1,000! More than 60 people came out at 7:00 a.m. on a 30 degree Saturday in April to participate, including Brian's parents.
In May, we ran the Borgess Marathon, the Lake Geneva Marathon and a sweltering All Community Chicagoland Marathon. Runners and spectators were starting to recognize us and would ask how things were going, giving us encouragement. At every single marathon we met people who had an ALS story to tell.
In June, we ran our local Sunburst Marathon and the Ann Arbor Marathon. In August, Nevada ran the Eagle Creek Trail Marathon, followed up by the Woodstock Trail Marathon in September. We had to split up our schedules on a few marathons because of family commitments and she chose the two most technical courses to run on her own!
We started wrapping up the year in October with the Chicago Marathon, the Indianapolis Marathon, the Grand Rapids Marathon and lastly, the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.
The IMM proved to be the best place to run number 12. We had a group of friends running the various events with us, including Nevada's 5-year old son running the 5k. A great part of this year was watching our kids embrace the project and learning about the importance of helping others.
During the IMM it rained a few times and even hailed. We couldn't help but smile at the weather as it made #12 different from all the rest. It was a reminder that we had made it through a lot this year. Watching Brian this year has taught us that no matter what challenges life throws at you, there is a positive to be found.
I had butterflies in my stomach the entire last half of the run. I wanted to finish and I did not want to finish. I hated to think about the marathons coming to an end. Nevada said that she had to fight back tears so that she could actually breathe the last 2 miles. It was certainly an emotional run!
While the 12 marathons are now complete, we hope that One Day will continue in some form. Brian is truly a remarkable motivator and the cause is one that will be in our hearts forever.
Tracy, Nevada and the One Day group post IMM
Throughout the year, we ran a lot and we thought about Brian a lot. We ran marathons in snow, in freezing rain and in blistering heat, on roads and on trails. We ran in big cities and small towns. We ran with old friends, with new friends, together and by ourselves. Brian was with us in spirit each mile that we ran. He doesn't know it, but it was him that kept us going when things got hard.
Neither of us had done any fundraising in the past and we could not have done this without the help of our friends. It was amazing to see things come together and people wanting to help out. Words cannot express our thanks for everyone that has supported us this year and our appreciation and respect for those we have met. More than anything, though, we have grown so much as runners and as people for having gone through this with Brian. Our gratitude to him is immeasurable.