This past weekend I ran into a couple of runners wearing their shiny red ‘Gilda’s Gang’ t-shirts.
I will always be partial to Team In Training, but there are quite a few running groups raising money for worthwhile causes out there- ‘Gilda’s Gang’ is one of them. They raise money for Nashville’s Gilda’s Club, a fantastic organization founded by the late Gilda Radner at the end of her life. We’re really lucky to have one here in Music City.
Gilda’s is a wonderful place—for me personally, it was an oasis when I was fighting cancer– a safe place if you may. Everyone on the staff has much experience with cancer and interacting with cancer patients- You feel welcomed warmly as soon as you walk through their ‘red’ door. And you’re always made to feel like family there too. Gilda Radner has been gone since 1986, but I feel like Felice, who runs Gilda’s here, is basically ‘Gilda’ of Nashville. She’s awesome.
When I was sick I mostly avoided being in public- first of all, when people see you and you’re 50 pounds lighter than you were just a year before, and are not exactly looking like a picture of health, people want to ask what’s going on—they mean well- but it’s very fatiguing to talk about it—at least it was in my case- so instead, I tended to try and avoid awkward conversations. But at Gilda’s it’s as if everyone knew and understood what you were going through. You didn’t have to say anything if you didn’t feel like it. And if you did, the others understood as they were in the trenches right there with you.
Bumping into those runners has had me thinking a lot about my friend Dori Brown. Dori was training with ‘Gilda’s Gang’ at about this same time last year– when she was hit with a 3rd relapse of leukemia. Dori was a fighter like no other. She passed away on June 7th, 2011, after a heroic and gallant battle. She was 42.
Dori and I were ‘Honored Teammates’ at the same time for TNT. She loved Gilda’s but she also loved TNT–we both had that in common too.
When I saw Dori’s husband Jim, also a very good friend, and a TNT Alumni, at the services, I felt consumed with ‘survivor’s guilt.’ What happened to Dori was not fair- she fought not once but 3 times. And she went through hell not once but 3 times. It makes me sad but also angry.
This year before one of our Saturday Group Training Sessions, my TNT Wilco Team got to hear Jim give an amazing ‘mission moment.’ Mainly it was about Dori, but also about continuing the fight. So one day no one else will suffer from this horrible sickness. Jim is also a very amazing human being.
Dori was a fighter but she was also a giver–and right to the end. Her last email to me, just a few days before she passed, ended with a simple plea, “please keep raising money so people don’t continue to suffer.”
I took that email very seriously-and not only will I continue raising money- but also keep talking about Dori and Jim- as they defined the spirit of wearing Purple and running for TNT. I think about them every time I slip into one of those Purple jerseys. And I feel like I have been tasked with keeping Dori’s spirit alive, at least within the ranks of TNT. They need to know.
Ted and I have about $98,000 to get to our $100,000 goal that we have set for this year–lately I think we’re nuts even thinking we have a shot at this- I think essentially however… that if you have faith…and your heart’s in the right place…eventually it comes. And after all–we’re not collecting money for a yacht or to take an extreme vacation and climb mountains or swim with sharks somewhere exotic—I can care less about that stuff–no we simply have marathons to run, and a lot of cancer to cure. So this is where you come in- we need you.
Even if it’s just 5 or 10 dollars- I would love it if you can help us- we would love it if we’re right now too, so we can get to 3% of that goal soon- woo-hoo!!