This weekend I will return to the Long Beach Int'l Marathon to serve as co-captain of the LB NF Endurance Team for my 5th time. When I reflect over the past five years I see a lot of ups and downs, but more importantly I see a permanent change I have made within myself. I have been filled with positivity, with motivation, and with a sense of community that comes from fighting side by side with others who live through the same battles, and much worse even, every day. I am inspired by people who go through so much more and do so much more then I could ever hope to do. These amazing people in our NF community fill me with hope and propel me forward on every course I have ever raced. I know that when I am spending time in the Hello Kitty Cave, or taking time off to just pretend our problems don't exist, these NF Warriors are still out there. I hope they all know when they need time to take a step back from the community to focus on their own families, as I have over the last year, that I will do my best to have their backs as they have mine. Every time any of us lead a support group, reach out to a newbie who is terrified by a recent diagnosis, lobby for research funds, run or walk to fundraise or donate out of our own pockets toward our shared goal of curing this devastating disorder, we are all supporting this amazing community that is the only silver lining to this damn thing we all live with every day. Together, that is exactly what we do... We live. We breathe, we love, we share, and oh yes we fight just as surely as any other family. So on race day these are the people in our NF community who consistently fuel my drive by supporting me directly as well as inspiring us all...
Jimmy Jackson... Now many of you are lucky enough to consider Jimmy a close friend, because he has a way of making everyone feel like his friend. I don't know how many times Jimmy has stepped up when needed to keep the NF2 Crew functioning and happy, but he took over for me when I couldn't handle the strain of moderating such a large group, and he helped everyone get along as only he can, with simplicity and kindness.
Tracy Galloway... Tracy's daughter was diagnosed as a teenager and Tracy has made it her mission to save her by any means necessary. This woman learned more about NF in one year then most of us who have been involved over 20 or even 30 years have! She asks specific questions, and if there is no answer she asks why not? She steps up to help in any way she can constantly, whether it is as a friend or in a professional role. She is efficient, intelligent, opinionated, and just one hell of a woman.
I will only name one more person, although there are so many more, and that is Bob Skold. He works at CTF for the NF Endurance Team, and has gone above and beyond to fill that role over the years. He has run over 50 marathons for the cause, as well as an ultra marathon or two! He is modest, he rarely can answer when I ask what his finishing time was, instead focusing on all the people he is intent on helping via his role on the team. So imagine my surprise when I was lucky enough to line up at a starting line with him one year and he left me in his dust! He has this elegant lope, and a steady determination that gets him across the finish line every time, whether it is a literal or proverbial race. The team has changed a lot recently, but Bob remains as dedicated as ever.
I hope each of you, Jimmy, Tracy, and Bob knows I am sending you love and gratitude from the pavement this Sunday. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for inspiring me every day.