Sunday was the day. I am not someone who likes to get up early, but I will to swim awfully long distances with people who keep kicking me. And even though it really scares me, makes me extremely nervous, I will totally do it, and at a ridiculous hour that should only be experienced by people waiting for school buses, inflexible bosses, or people with very small children who don’t know how to read a clock or work a toaster. My children can read clocks and use the toaster, so I sleep in either Saturday or Sunday. But sometimes I get the family up and drive to a cold body of water and jump in. Then they clap for me when I come in, and then we go to breakfast. Perfect morning for me. And that is (sort of) what we did this weekend, no different.
Well, it actually was different. This time it was for Team In Training, it was the Hudson River, where I have never swum before, and I had dragged my family 10 hours north to do it. So if I wasn’t ready, it surely was too late for that. I had said all along, if I have to stop, if my shoulder messes up, if I get too tired or get stuck in a current, run out of time, or cramp or whatever makes it impossible, I would not push myself too far. With swimming, pushing too hard becomes a safety issue, so I feel like it adds a different level of difficulty, danger, and endurance to the sport. So you have to tell yourself how far you are willing to push yourself. So armed with my inhaler, Gu, and a great new suit, I was ready to go. I decided to go wetsuit free, as the water was a around 74 degrees. I worry so much, it makes it hard to get to sleep, so a fairly moderate amount of activity on Saturday helped me feel more ready for bed that night, but I also am a “Sleep Denier” and so I put off going to bed a lot of the time, but I was fairly tired and went to bed at around eleven. So nutrition check, positive attitude check, sleep check, gear check, and cheering squad check. And when I showed up with my cheering squad, and told the NY Team I was Carrie Rogers, I got hugs!! And cheers and celebrity treatment; people showing me around like a prize poodle! It turns out I was the Top Fundraiser for the WHOLE TNT team! Wow! I was on Cloud Nine! We– BECAUSE, BROTHERS– had raised $8600 for Team in Training. Wow again!!
I secretly hoped all along we would be able to do that, and I checked the website last year to see what people were bringing in, and I set my goal with that in mind. But there have been times we haven’t made the goal. We have done this several years in a row in a down economy, and a lot of our regular donors are doctors or retirees, who are having to live on less because their stocks are down or their earnings are down, and that sounds like they are hoarding money in a big safe like Scrooge McDuck, but realistically, these are people who have given so much to us in the past, and they don’t have a big Scrooge McDuck pile, just like all of us. People are strapped these days, whether you have PhDs or MDs or JDs, and everyone is having to scrape a little more to live of off. So just like the old woman in the temple in the parable, when you have little to give, your contribution is even more meaningful. We are blessed to have these people who give and give year after year, or the child at the lemonade stand, or the teacher who has taken a pay cut again, or the high-level executive who donates a percentage to his church, charity, and civic group and then responds to my letter after seeing what we are trying to accomplish, helping me reach our goal. What it all comes down to it, all that matters is that we all do *something,* don’t just do NOTHING. I think the amount we were able to raise with a short letter raising everyone’s awareness, and some emails and social media posts, and a rainy lemonade sale, goes to show that people in general just want to help. And they did. They helped patients get to treatment appointments, paid for cancer therapies, provided support for families dealing with a child or brother or wife or parent’s diagnosis, and they helped push for medical research dollars and advocacy for the mission. Every one of you did that, with every dollar. Granddaddy told me, when we were on the Outer Banks when I was little, that I was supposed to leave a place better than when I found it. I have always remembered this, and as a kid, I thought it just meant picking up a plastic wrapper on the beach or not pulling sea grass out of the dunes. But now I understand more what he meant, and I am trying to do that. I was thirteen when Granddaddy died of lymphoma. It surprises me how much that little statement affected my life.
I digress! So back to last weekend. It was a beautiful day. Awe-inspiring. Dennis Chillemi, NY’s Executive Director, called me out at the beginning pep talk and congratulated me for coming so far and raising the top amount, and everyone clapped. I don’t think I’ve ever had everyone clapping for me. I don’t often do stuff where I’m getting awards and kudos. I fly under the radar, always around the middle. Then I was worried about the cold, but the water was warm(ish). Carol (I’m sorry but I didn’t get her last name!) watched me at the starting line– I was stuck way in the back and the TNTers were all going first but I wasn’t with them, so she called for me, and made sure I got in with their wave. When I was having trouble starting, she reminded me, “Put your face in the water!!” and I did, for which I’m grateful because it’s easy to get freaked out about the cold but if you just get your face cold then you adjust to the temperature faster and you can get moving. Then when we lost sight of the buoys, we had the awesome kayakers to point us in the right direction. And so when I was following the 2 mile buoy and it was floating away, I had gotten discouraged because I couldn’t get closer to it (Maybe we were both floating at the same speed!?), the kayakers kept me from getting worked up and pointed me in the real right direction. And then when we were too close to the riverbank and I got stuck on the rocks, the people behind me got me moving again, because I was cramping and I knew staying by the rocks, I was accidentally leading other swimmers in too close. And so I yelled to them not to get on the rocks, pushed and pulled and yelled some more! (to get through the cramp!!) and I did it. And when I got to the finish line, after sprinting the last 50 or 75 yards, I saw an angel with blond hair and an LLS shirt pull me in, put a medal on me, and get me to the first aid tent, where they covered me with blankets and gave me a massage, until I could move again, and it was wonderful. Every person at the event that day was doing it out of care, a desire to help, and need to do good in the world around them. (Well, some of them were there because I drug them up from Raleigh, and there was a playground there so they didn’t just up and run away.) But Team in Training evokes that kind of atmosphere. And it warms your heart and invigorates you to be another one to do good for others. It’s priceless.
So Because Brothers family, WHO’S NEXT for Team in Training???