By Kayleigh Taylor
Published: March 4, 2010
Last week, while the rest of the northeast enjoyed a beautiful snowfall, New York City endured hours of freezing rain. I decided to run to practice, hoping to make the commute less painful. I shoved my ear buds through the lining of my inside pocket, and tried to zone out Manhattan as I soared as quickly as possible through a cloud of frantic umbrellas. By the time I arrived, I was completely drenched. As soon as I stopped running, my body temperature plummeted and I realized just how cold it was. I ducked under Bethesda Terrace to wait for my team and wondered if anyone else would be crazy enough to show up. In retrospect, it was silly to have doubts, my team is just as hardcore and dedicated to this cause as I am.
What cause, your asking? I am training this winter with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team in Training to run the Vancouver Marathon. Team in Training provides its participants with expert coaches and training clinics, and in return, each participant agrees to fundraise a certain minimum for blood cancer research. My minimum requirement is $3,900, but I am really hoping to break $4,000!
I made the commitment to the LLS after the death of Casey Feldman this summer. I wasn’t a close friend of Casey’s, but she happened to be the very first person I met at Fordham at our Summer Orientation in 2006. Casey and I were placed in the same small group, so we spent the day together: listening to the information session, playing icebreakers and going on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood (which we won!). I remember the day very clearly, the things we discussed and my first impressions of my peers. While we walked around the city scouting take-out menus and Trump Hotel pens, Casey and I talked about leaving our high school boyfriends, our potential new roommates and the things we would miss about our hometowns.
I was deeply affected by Casey’s death and monitored, somewhat obsessively, the developments her parents and friends made on her Web site. I was comforted to discover that the sweet girl I had met three years prior had accomplished more in her 21 years than many people do in a lifetime. But I was also frightened to realize that life is so fragile, and that at any moment dreams can be taken away from us.
In October, I discovered that Casey’s parents had created a networking Web site encouraging Casey’s friends, family and peers to give back to the community and live life more fully. I decided immediately that I wanted to take action. Running is one of my strongest passions, and for a few years I had been tempted by the Team in Training program. The fundraising requirement is intimidating, for lack of a better word, so I planned to postpone joining until after graduation. But after perusing Casey’s site that night, I knew that it couldn’t wait, and the next evening, I went to a Team in Training information session and signed up.
Since registration, I have been in contact with Casey’s parents and friends. The pink commemorative bracelet they gave me helps me remember everyday why I’m training and striving to help the community. I have shared Casey’s story with my teammates, and many have shared their own stories with me. Some are blood cancer survivors, while others run in honor of a friend or family member. The dedication of these teammates and my memories of Casey have given me reason to rise out of bed early Saturday mornings for long runs and the courage to push myself to limits I never thought possible.
Thus far, my training has gone very well. I’m almost ready to conquer the 26.2 miles! Likewise, my friends and family have been very generous and I have reached the 50 percent mark in my fundraising. But I still have a long way to go! On March 6, I will be hosting an open bar fundraiser from 10 p.m.to 1 a.m. at Cinema Brasserie (45th Street between 5th and Madison Avenues). Everyone is welcome to attend! The cost of the open bar will be $25 for three hours and we will also have some games and raffles.
There was a time, not long so long ago, when I thought completing a marathon was an unrealistic goal for me. I loved running, but I never thought I’d find the time or energy to devote myself to such a rigorous training schedule. After receiving inspiration to take on the challenge and experiencing such tremendous success, I realize that the most restricting limits in life are the ones we place on ourselves. Everyday is a new opportunity, and those who are willing to embrace both spontaneity and discipline will live a truly full and happy life. I have found that there is a certain unmatchable joy in testing limits and in taking on a goal that seems unattainable. I challenge you to do the same.