As we start a new month and welcome a busy October, I want to take a minute to appreciate some of the amazing things I’ve watched you all do for each other in just the last couple of months.
When someone in the tribe posted about feeling down and unmotivated about running, several of you responded to the post or picked up the phone and called, and then put together an entire motivational chat group to help pick that person up. When a member of another tribe expressed some concern about coming to Summit, several of you reached out, showed how much you care despite never having met the person, and motivated them not only to come to Summit but to join our cheer station for the Marathon. When folks expressed fear about running alone given the horrible stories of attacks on runners lately, loads of you stepped up to form run groups or to offer to run or bike alongside runners so they don’t have to be alone. It’s almost every single day that I see you reaching out to make sure everyone is ok, and when they’re not, telling them it’s ok to not be ok, and that they always have someone to listen. It’s inspirational and nothing short of extraordinary.
When I won the positivity award, I wrote a blog post about how I heavily leaned on November Project when a friend of mine passed away unexpectedly. This year’s Chicago Marathon will mark one year since my friend and college teammate, Dan, was bitten by a rattlesnake while hiking and passed away. It was so shocking and hard to believe that even a year later it feels more like a story I tell than a truth. I wanted to share a bit more about my friend with you because in so many ways he lived by the same values you uphold in terms of being a person his friends could turn to in times of need, despite his own personal challenges.
Dan was one of those people who sparkled. Despite his 5’3” stature, he was the light of every room he walked into. Even now I can see his huge smile as if it was sitting across from me. But, as he spoke about openly, his relationship with his mental health was one he battled fiercely throughout college. There were all too many waterski tournaments where it was tough to be around him as he was learning his relationship between bipolar disorder and the alcohol that was ever present at our college parties.
After years of fluctuation, he found endurance sports, which changed his life for the better. Through training for marathons, an Ironman, and biking across America through Ride for World Health, he transformed into the brightest, happiest version of himself. The last time I saw him, it was impossible to miss how wonderfully he was doing as he beamed with joy. But he didn’t stop there.
While living in Chicago, Dan was a strong supporter of Hope for the Day. Hope for the Day is a Chicago-based organization that aims to achieve proactive suicide prevention through outreach and mental health education. They work to equip, educate and empower people to break the silence and remove the stigma around mental health and suicide, and guide those in need of help to available resources.
This month, on Wednesdays we’ll be meeting at the Illinois Centennial Monument in Logan Square at 6:18 am, 10 minutes earlier than our usual Wednesday time. After the workout, if you’re able, I hope you’ll help me honor my friend Dan by using those 10 minutes to join me at Sip of Hope, a coffee shop where 100% of proceeds are donated to Hope for the Day, for a cup of coffee and/or a few minutes of conversation. I hope you’ll take the time to read some of the materials they offer and proactively build your knowledge base on mental health and suicide prevention. I hope you’ll spend an extra ten minutes with each other and appreciate that time you get to spend together. I hope it will be a safe space where we can talk about anything you need to talk about in a reminder that one of the most important parts of community is supporting each other.
Whether it’s in those 10 minutes, during the workouts, or any other time, I appreciate knowing you’ll be there to listen, and I’ll be there to do the same. Thank you for everything you do for me, and for each other, every day.
All of the love.