The scenery was absolutely breathtaking, but the terrain these runners had to conquer was not easy...very hilly and windy. Being at the race was somewhat surreal to me. We've been talking about it and promoting it for months now, so to see how it all came together was awesome. The amount of work that went into making this race possible was beyond what I could have even imagined, yet my husband pulled it off, with the help of a very special friend...Thank you Tracy! There were 368 participants, representing 3 countries and 39 states. Amongst all those aMAYZing runners, we had a man with a prosthetic leg run the entire marathon. It was such an emotional moment seeing him cross that finish line with his arms in the air and the look of pride on his face. There was also a 4-year old little girl...the same age as Hailey would be now...who RAN the entire 5K! After running, she came up to me and handed me a dime and said, "This is from Hailey." I was in awe of her. (Oh, and that was her second 5K, by the way!) The last runner to finish was a woman in her late 60's who also completed the entire marathon!
I have to share a truly aMAYZing experience that I had. First off, I am so very embarrassed to say that I considered leaving before the race ended. We had been up since 4:15 in the morning and by then it was after 1:00pm, plus there were only a few more runners out. I was exhausted, not feeling so great (Don't forget I'm pregnant now!) and had a 6 hour drive home. I rationalized to myself that not every single person who ran the race was running for Hailey. This particular race has been going on for many years now, so I knew that some of the runners were regulars. I figured it wouldn't really matter that much if I left a little early. (Gosh, I am so humiliated to admit that and feel absolutely horrible and selfish that I even thought that way, but I'm only telling you all this because the rest of the story is too great not to share.) Well something inside me said that I needed to wait to see every single runner cross that finish line...every single participant was just as important as the next. So I did. I stayed. And the last lady to finish was the woman in her late 60's who had just completed the entire marathon. First, I have to say that seeing her cross that finish line brought out such emotion and pride in me. I wasn't expecting that at all. Then, something I was expecting even less occurred. That same lady walked up to me, asked me if I was Hailey's mom, and when I said yes, she took a dime out of her pocket, handed it to me and said, "Here, I ran with this in my pocket for 26.1 miles in honor of your little girl." (Okay, the tears are flowing right now as I type this.) I almost fell over. I couldn't believe it! I was absolutely speechless at the irony of the entire moment. Here I was going to selfishly leave before she made it back, thinking she wouldn't really care if I was there or not, and yet she was running with this dime in her pocket the entire time. Let me just say, that was one of those life changing moments that I will NEVER forget. That dime holds a special place in my heart and home.
Now, speaking of dimes...I asked Hailey just to send me one dime that day so I knew she was there. After arriving, Tracy (the wonderful lady in charge of the race) made an announcement to everyone introducing Sean, Lexi, Ava, and I as Hailey's parents. (That was quite emotional in itself.) After the announcement, groups of people I have never met before started walking up to me and handing me dimes! It was so awesome. She not only sent me one dime...she showered me with them!!! I love her. I haven't had a chance to count how much money I received in dimes yet, but I decided to use them to buy something really special to leave at her place as a memento of all those people who supported her and her family. I'll update you all and post a picture when I decide what to get.
I'm still not sure how much money we raised for Hailey's Foundation, but the one thing I am sure of is that I can't wait to start using it to give out "halos!" Christmas is the hardest time of the year for me without my little Hailey around, so I think being able to help others with her foundation will definitely bring a lot of joy. (Probably even more to me than those we're helping!) I will keep you all updated on all the halos we give out so you can see the difference that your hard earned money is making to those special people in need of a little extra love. Who would have ever imagined that so much good could come from something so tragic. That being said, I want to close by saying, Thank again...thank you, thank you, thank you...for all your continued love and support. None of this would be possible without all of you. May God bless you and your families for your compassion towards those who are struggling in life.
P.S. I hope to see you all there next year at the 2nd Annual aMAYZing Race!!!
A few photos:
Check out that scenery.
Hailey's two sisters representing her cause.
About to start the race!
Lexi came in first in the Kid's Fun Run!
(Way to represent! Hailey would be so proud.)
Hailey's flag flew at the finish line.
(It's in the bottom right hand corner.)