It was a warm July evening when we received the call we never expected. This was our final opportunity. And so we made the journey. More than five hours later, with two dogs in tow and heavy hearts, we arrived to share memories, love, and thankfully, a bit of laughter, with a dear friend we were broken to have to say our goodbyes to that day.
Johnnie was twenty-five years young with endless inspiration generously given to anyone with whom he came in contact and a lifetime of world-changing, beauty-seeking, bold living ahead of him. But that all changed on July 29, 2012. The world lost a most amazing soul, and so we went to work.
Alex & Alexis D'Ettorre
For three years prior, we had made Team in Training (TNT) a part of our lives, but now its mission made its way even deeper into our hearts. TNT, the organization that supports individuals training for endurance events while they raise fund to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, makes it its goal to "Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families." This was the place for us to find hope for those who faced Johnnie and his family's devastating experience with lymphoma.
So we trained. And raised funds. And spread the word of the amazing things we can do if we just seek a cure together.
Johnnie had the charisma, the talent, and the drive to make a brilliant difference in this world. We met in college while we two served as senators for our undergraduate student government with Johnnie leading us as student body president.. He quickly became one of our dearest friends and went on to be a groomsman standing beside us at our wedding. Johnnie touched life after life, spreading joy in his wake. He was an absolute treasure.
Nearly $4,000 raised together in one year in honor of Johnnie's fight, and the day had come. We had reached the Monumental Marathon, our first full marathon, and we were doing it together.
In truth, there were moments upon moments that morning that we looked to the other in hopes we could just call what we had done "good enough" and sit on curb for the vehicle following the race to gather us up, but in each instant one of us said "I'm just not sure I can do this" the other reminded that this brief moment in our lives would never amount to Johnnie's ultimate sacrifice.
Alexis & Alex D'Ettorre
One of the day's brightest moments was our stiff, frustrated approach to the twenty-two mile marker where we found our family waiting to peel off our soaking wet attire to replace it with the warm, dry clothing off their own bodies.
It was passion and love that got us started on our journey and love and passion that saw us through. Through rain, bitter cold, and sleet, we could feel the victory, the peace, the celebration of the completion of this journey, both Johnnie's and our own, as we crossed the finish line.
And we will do it again and again. The Monumental Marathon gave us an opportunity to share an irreplaceable experience side by side, as partners and best friends, all in honor of a man who inspired us to never stop seeking greater heights.
Here's 26.2 miles to Johnnie and to each and every one sharing in his experience.