As I watched the wheelchair racers go by at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the racers with amputated legs, and those with cognitive disabilities, I kept hearing a phrase repeat to me over and over in my head. I am convinced that the majority of the world has no idea what true suffering really is.

As I watched this group of racers go by, I cried. The tears I could not hold back. The cheering I could not hold back. But it was more than just cheering the racers on in that moment that I was cheering about, it was cheering them on in the past, present and the future. Their future. The daily obstacles they have to overcome. Each day for them is a victory. To actually train for a 26.2 mile journey is absolutely extraordinary! To have that kind of mindset that those racers have is absolutely astonishing.

I have an older sister who is paralyzed from the chest down. She is a quadriplegic. Her name is Nichole. The daily struggles that come with living like this is not fair. The physical struggle is real and present in every single moment of her day. The mental struggle is real and present in every single moment of her day. The struggle doesn’t just stop with her. It continues to the family members as well. The lives that had to be changed and adjusted. The lives that had to be rerouted and remapped. The parents who would give anything to trade places with their daughter but can’t, these lives had to be reformed. Molded back into a different way. A different shape. A different form. The struggle is real. And it is a struggle that people wake up to every single day. A struggle that has no cure at this time. A struggle that is lived with for now. No chance of overcoming the struggle, just the chance of making the struggle more bearable and more doable.

This is why I tear up at the Chicago Marathon. This is why I go back every year. And this is why I support the charity I ran for called Spinal Cord Injury Sucks. For years after my sister’s accident, I felt trapped. I could only do so much to help her out. I could only do so much. But then I discovered running and I discovered SCIS. I signed up to run for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and to raise money for Spinal Cord Injury Sucks. My life was changed.

I was finally doing something. I felt like I was finally making a mark in this arena. I was raising money. I was raising awareness. I was making a difference bigger than I could have imagined. I was contributing to thousands of others doing the same thing and together we were making a huge dent.

In large numbers you can make a huge dent. But doing it by yourself is hard and it is lonely. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. There are others out there in your boat, whatever boat you are in, wanting to do what you want to do. Find them. Hang on to the. And go make a huge dent with them.

When I stand as a spectator at the marathon or when I am an active participant in it, I am moved every time. ALL of the runners; ALL of the racers are doing this for a reason. Some reasons are just silly reasons and some reasons are great downright inspirational reasons. I stand in the race or on the sidelines and am inspired by every reason. I am inspired by every person. These people move me. And for this reason, I will keep coming back.

I am convinced that the majority of the world has no idea what true suffering really is.

Love & Blessings,

Tara

“Good writing succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head.” ~Malcolm Gladwell

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