When I crossed the finish line of Charlotte’s Thunder Road Half Marathon blindfolded in November 2013, I knew the race would be a tough act to follow. But I didn’t intend to stop running for my sister, Taylor, and our fight against Batten disease and other rare diseases.
On National Running Day 2014, I shared my plan to run a race in all 50 states – a feat not as rare as running 13.1 miles blind but one that I hope will help me spread our story far and wide.
Eight months ago, I signed up to run the Fargo Half Marathon, making North Dakota my seventh state. I suffered a stress fracture in my foot while running the Charlottesville Half Marathon in Virginia, state number six, on Easter Weekend.
But on Friday morning, I was on the plane bound for Fargo (by way of Chicago). And Friday evening, I was in a crowd of 8,000 runners and walkers for the Fargo 5K. Clad in Taylor’s Tale purple, warm clothes (Fargo is cold!) and a medical boot, I did an interview with WDAY, Fargo’s ABC affiliate (watch the story here).
Minutes later I set out with my friend and host, Heidi Middel, for a 3.1-mile race I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish.
Then we reached mile one.
And mile two.
Before I knew it, the finish line was a short sprint away.
But while I’m known for finishing even the toughest races with a sprint to the end, I couldn’t run at all in Fargo. I limped to the finish line with a photographer tracking my every move, and I cried out in joy when I crossed. The Fargo 5K was the flattest, slowest, toughest race I’d ever done.
I was so happy I’d finished that I forgot to keep walking toward the race volunteers handing out medals. We headed to the Fargodome so I could meet a reporter from The Forum, Fargo’s local newspaper (read the story here). When we realized everyone else inside the Fargodome was wearing medals, my friend Heidi walked up to a group of girls and shared my story. One of the girls immediately removed her medal and thrust it toward me. “Here,” she said. “You should have mine.” I gave her my Taylor’s Tale wristband in return; I hope she reads this blog post so she’ll know how much her kindness meant to me.
This isn’t how I imagined completing my seventh of 50 states. I was supposed to run a flat, fast half marathon in Fargo this morning, but instead I shared a leisurely breakfast with Heidi and Jamie’s three children on their 10,000-acre farm an hour from the city; afterward, I read the girls a story and thought about how my sister Taylor used to love books, too.
But giving up was never in Taylor’s DNA, and though Batten disease has robbed her of almost everything she’s ever known and will eventually take her life, she’s found a way to be thankful for small blessings. I’m grateful to God for the ability to come to North Dakota, limp 3.1 miles, share my sister’s story, see a new part of our beautiful country and spend time with friends. I’m grateful for the strength Taylor gives me to face each new day. Regardless of what obstacles stand in my way, I’ll never, ever stop fighting for kids like her.
I walked the Fargo 5k in a protective boot on Friday, May 8, finishing in 1:00:24. Please consider making a donation to Taylor’s Tale in support of our fight to build a better future for kids like my sister. All donations are 100 percent tax-deductible. Give Now