What they say about small towns is very true…everyone does know everyone. I was never too far from someone asking me if I was one of Lee Roger’s grandkids. A woman who never accepted the rules as limitations, my grandmother was one of the first women Rotarians, a professional model and a world traveler. She opened a beauty/etiquette school, was the President of the Chamber of Commerce and started the local pageant to help provide scholarships and build young women’s self-esteem. Needless to say she was a force of nature.
I treasured my relationship with my grandmother. It was one of constant encouragement, unwavering support and endless advice. She taught me how to act like a lady but fight like a man for what I wanted. She showed me how confidence doesn’t have to be showy, but in fact, the quieter is usually more powerful. And she had this incredible ability to make everyone feel important, welcomed and appreciated.
I idolized her with every fiber of my being.
While holding her hand, I lost my grandmother New Years Day of 2008 after her 7 year battle with Alzheimer’s. In search of a little solace, I began volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association in NYC a few weeks later. Turning confusion into knowledge was the only way I felt as if I could get any closure.
I ran my first marathon in Texas in 2010, and told myself I wouldn’t do again unless it was for something bigger than me. So when I knew my work would keep me in NYC during the marathon this year, I knew it was my chance to combine both my passion for Alzheimer’s awareness and my love for running. The NYC Marathon will be my 3rd full marathon, and undoubtedly my most difficult. Not just emotionally and physically, but also because I will be working that afternoon. You see, my 3rd Broadway show, Annie, has a 3pm matinee that I will be dancing and singing in.
Yes it is “crazy.” I am aware. But sometimes it is through the “crazy” that we take those steps to make a difference. It is through the impossible that we raise awareness and through the unimaginable that we start to see changes. My grandmother acknowledged barriers, but humbly broke through them and eventually could only see them through the rearview mirror. It is my turn now.
I am honored to run, train and be with you guys. This journey has only just started, but I feel as if it has already impacted my life forever. Let’s do this!