Rotary keeps me going when that little voice in my head says “Stop, stop! Please STOP!”
While attempting 10 half marathons in 2012 to promote Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign, I have focused on two things: People who have no choice but to struggle, day after day, because they were paralyzed by a virus; and the people who have fought, day after day, to eradicate polio so that no child would ever have to suffer from the disease again.
I have completed five Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathons so far this year – Arizona, Nashville, San Diego, Chicago, and Providence – with an injury making each finish line more difficult than the last. I try to think about anything but running. Through the Arizona desert, I thought of the now-retired polio survivor who owned a service station. He was working on a doctor’s car when the doctor pointed to the man’s leg brace and told him he should take it easy so as not to wear his leg out. No praise or recognition for the extra effort it took the mechanic to do his job. But though everyone told him he couldn’t or shouldn’t, the man fashioned a successful career anyway. And I knew I could finish that mile, and the next, and the next.
Nashville was hilly and hot. I thought of Rotarians who pay their own way to take part in National Immunization Days. They endure long hours in the heat and short nights in strange environments. Yet they describe the trips as an “experience of a lifetime.” Rotarians ignore their personal needs to serve others. And I knew I could finish Nashville, and San Diego too.
Chicago was absolutely punishing. The Windy City had no breeze on a 90 degree plus day. Rotarians and friends have been supporting PolioPlus since 1985. Every year, they get closer to the end, but each year requires new effort. If they quit, all the gains will be lost. So they stay strong, keep fighting. My mind focused on all the Rotarians who know we will End Polio. And though my body didn’t feel like it, I knew I could reach the finish line. In Providence as well.
That leaves Philadelphia (16 September), Denver (22 September), New York 10K (13 October), St. Louis (21 October) and Los Angeles (28 October). If I see a Rotary sign along the course, I will stop and take a picture!
If you have been a part of Rotary’s fight against polio, THANK YOU! You are the reason I run, and you are the reason I hope to finish this goal.