The Team in Training kickoff was Saturday. As I headed to the McAllen Convention Center, I was worried I was heading to the wrong place. Because all I saw were these signs.
Nonetheless, I found the right room and got there with a few minutes to spare. I heard the presentation and meet the honored heroes. For the Lower Valley, that's David Mendez. He had just wrapped up his last round of chemotheraphy. There was a bit of a line to meet him and he cordially talked with everyone.
We took a group photo and someone joked, "Smile. This is the only group photo we'll take on a Saturday where we won't be stinky."
I also met some of the vendors, which included the United Blood Service. I get credit for giving blood. I've never done that before. I mentioned to the rep that I once passed out when giving blood... during a blood test.
"During a blood test?"
I'm an organ donor, so I was hoping that would somehow balance the lack of blood donations. In the words of Sam Beckett, the "Quantum Leap" character, not the poet.... oh, boy.
Years ago, my sister was teasing my grandmother and proudly proclaimed herself the black sheep of the family. Then she turned to me and said, "Malena, you'd be the black sheep of the family, if anybody knew you were part of the family."
I laughed. It did happen a lot. Even when shopping with my family at a grocery store as a child, some acquaintance of my mother's would say hello and assume I'm my younger sister's friend.
As an adult, I've worked with people in one environment and bumped into them later. The conversation goes like this:
Former co-worker: Oh, you worked at so-and-so? I worked there too. I don't think we've been introduced.
ME: No, we've met before. I worked there, when you did.
Why did I mention this?
I had my one-on-one meeting yesterday to go over some basic TNT information. Fundraising is my concern. There was an information sheet with brainstorming ideas of who I could send donation request letters to.
It's a great list. But as a person who doesn't talk with a lot of other people… it's just a reminder of the challenge ahead. I don't have a babysitter, attorney, bookkeeper, manicurist, or veterinarian. No one sold me a house or bridal gown or computer.
It just seems odd to say, "Hey, I know I don't talk to you at all (or haven't in a very long time), but I need your help." It's a great cause. I'm trying to think if the shoe was on the other foot, would I help that person out.
I want to end on a positive note, so I guess it's to push that angle. "You don't hear from me often, but this is an important cause. It's so important that I'm hoping we can get passed the awkward "I haven't heard from her in years" part… And, yes, we've met before."
I run. At least, I try to. While I do my slow jog, I get passed by lots of people - adults, children, diabetics who didn’t stick to their diets, a man who recently had a kidney transplant… And still I run. It’s just a reminder to myself that I’ve been blessed with the ability to do it (even if it’s rather slow).
Not everyone’s that lucky. With that in mind, I decided to use my running to help others. I saw Team in Training presented in a local television program last year, and this year, I happened to find a brochure about it somewhere around town.
I'm fortunate in not having a loved one diagnosed with a blood cancer. But just because I haven't been directly affected, that doesn't make me ignorant of the fact that so many people are and that they need help.
If this is how I can help, I will. I'll work and train to run a half-marathon and raise $1,500 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). And while I'm scared of failing in both running and fundraising, I know my anxiety is nothing compared to what cancer patients and their families face.
So, I'll try to put my fear into good use. C'mon, who doesn't run a little faster when they're scared?
Please make a donation in support of my efforts with Team In Training and help advance the research for cures.
Former high school water girl (really) finally running.