Sunday, October 3, 2010

first ever northern california strollathon

we drove to arrowhead marsh in oakland sunday morning, i wasn't quite sure what to expect. i was really excited to be a part of something so close to my heart, but i was really nervous as to how it would all play out. would people show up? would all of our {erica's} hard work pay off? would i keep my emotions under control? it was all a big guessing game at that point.

as we parked, i noticed the wind was picking up a bit. nothing a little jacket couldn't handle. but it got windier and windier. we were taping down tablecloths and securing tents. putting paper weights on decorations and safeguarding the goodies. there was lots of help setting up and while i was organizing the decorate you wheelchair or stroller booth, leah found a fan club that seemed more than happy to entertain her. these girls were the cutest things on earth with her. brianna {top left with the "E" on her forehead} was the ringleader. she has a younger sister named erica who also has rett syndrome and brianna feels like the luckiest girl in the world to be associated with these special girls. she rallied her friends and they all came to support the cause. they played with and talked to and laughed with leah like there was nothing different about her at all. and leah ate. it. up.

 all the food and supplies donations came through and the event was fully stocked. the balloon arch looked great and the signs about all the girls were ready to go. as we neared the 1:00 registration time, i got a little nervous. many of the families here are local. they have lots of family and friends in the area, which means lots of visible support. i know we have lots of support too, but so much of it is from afar. and with ryan having gone out of town the day before, i was feeling a little bit lonely. leah and i had our matching team leah bean shirts and we waited for our friends to arrive.

because it was general conference weekend, i was more-than-hesitant to ask friends to come and support us. they've already done so much for us, i didn't want to have to have them take an entire sunday afternoon driving to oakland and back just to walk for a mile with us. most of our friends actually couldn't make it for lots of different reasons, but the katzs and smiths readily volunteered. they scrounged up some white shirts and had an ironing party too. they both texted that they were on there way, so i decided to go out to meet them. as i saw them drive up and get their kids out of their cars, i was overcome with emotion. these two families represented so many of our family members and friends who have supported us without hesitation throughout the past year. as tears streamed down my face {and poorly hid them}, all i could do was utter a measly thank you and give them a hug.

they registered and we waited for the big stroll to start. erica said a few words {and didn't even get choked up - go erica!}, we took pictures of the 18 girls and women in attendance who were the whole reason we were there and then we were off - all 360 of us.

 we stayed near the back of the pack because, did i mention, sarah had had a baby just three weeks prior and kristen, just four week prior to her. these women are rock stars. i know physical exertion wasn't at the top of their lists that day, but they did it for leah. we walked and ran and raced and laughed. we had a great time.

the sun even shone for the actual stroll and the wind died down for a bit. couldn't have asked for better.

 {team leah bean}
 {sweet syndey and leah - the best of friends}
team leah bean alone raised more than $3,600. my heart is full of gratitude to all those who donated monetarily - big or small - as well as those who donated their time, efforts and support or offered prayer on her behalf. together, all teams participating in this first-ever northern california strollathon raised more than $70,000. that's $70,000 closer to miss ribbons being cured. $70,000 closer to hearing her say i love you. $70,000 to all the dreams we flushed down the toilet last october 30th. those dreams are in reach.


Emily said...

This is so beautiful all the support Maren! I am so glad you had such a wonderful event and Leah's ribbons are so cute! Her hair always looks adorable :)

ed and kelli said...

LOVE this. LOVE jackers pushing bean.

Jenny said...

Holy cow! $70,000!? That's just amazing. I can't get over that. That's incredible!