OK, it’s confirmed…I’m officially the luckiest girl in the world! I won the race on Saturday!! No kidding. Alright, technically I was just the top female runner (there were four or five guys that crossed the finish line before me and I did tried my best to catch them too but…) anyway, I was just happy to be out there and give the boys a good run for their money. Either way, I’ll take it! So funny, Neil looked at me as we were walking up to the start and said, “Um, are we really gonna race this thing or were you just kidding?” I must have had a terribly confused look on my face because he said, “…What??” “Of course I’m racing it and I wasn’t kidding about winning it either.” I still don’t think he was sure if I was serious or not since we’d only had a couple hours of sleep the night before and were already in a deficit from a busy week. But I think it became pretty clear once they sounded the start and I took off sprinting after the boys and then confirmed when 21+ minutes later we crossed the finish line he said, “Wow Alys, you really weren’t kidding, were you…?” “Nope.”
Anyway, the race was wonderful and so much fun. Thank you to all of you who came out to join “Team Alyssa” on the coldest morning we’ve had yet and to all those who donated on our behalf. I can’t tell you how much your effort, time and generosity means to us and how fabulous it was to see you all there! I posted some pictures of the festivities and members of “Team Alyssa”. I should be getting some more from the photographer of the event and will post those when I do.
One of the other highlights for me was meeting the families of people being treated and donors who have given their bone marrow. I spoke with one gentleman who had registered his marrow in 1991 while he was in college and got a call last year saying that he’d matched with an 18 year old boy who desperately needed a transplant. Without hesitation, the man had one and a half units of his bone marrow harvested from his hips to give to a boy he had never met. I got chills (and it wasn’t because it was cold outside) when he went on to say that his life has been “profoundly impacted” by the experience of donating and that his entire family was there to run in support of the boy he helped save…they don’t even know his name.
A little while later, a mother and young girl came up to me and said, “Is it true? Did you really have a transplant?” I was wearing my “I Believe in Miracles” T-Shirt that had “Double Bone Marrow Transplant Recipient Northside Hospital 2008” printed on the back. I laughed and said, “Yep, crazy, huh?” It turned out their 23-year old daughter/cousin just had a transplant a few months ago and was having a rough time. Upon my response the young girl broke out into a huge smile and said, “That’s great ‘cause my cousin said she wants to run the race next year so I can’t wait to tell her about you!” “Absolutely, tell her I’ll meet her right here next year, OK?”
And shortly after that I spotted the “Atlanta Blood Services” tent and walked over to thank them. A couple of girls were standing there and I said, “You don’t know me but I want to thank you. I was a patient a couple of years ago at the Bone Marrow Group at Northside Hospital and I received many units of blood and platelets from you guys and I want you to know how grateful I am for all you did to help me.” The girl who was closest to me said, “Oh my gosh, are you Alyssa?!” “Um, yeah…how did you…?” I started to say. “Oh, the girls will be so excited we saw you! They heard you were going to be here!” I had called the girl who coordinates my post-transplant work-ups at the Bone Marrow Group a couple weeks ago just to say that I had a team running to help support the race and if there was anything else I could do, now or in the future, to help (they were sponsors of the race) to please just let me know, and I guess word got around. We chatted for a few more minutes and I asked them to please give everyone a hug for me and tell them hello and thank you. The other girls said they would and I was about to turn to leave when I felt an awkward silence from the girl closest to me. Thinking maybe I was babbling on too much (it happens…), I sort of turned to look at her and make a quick exit when I noticed that she was crying. “I don’t know what to say…it’s just so wonderful…to see you like this, so healthy, so strong…it’s just so wonderful…” I gave her a big hug and said, “Yes, yes it is. I’ve been very blessed and I’m so grateful to you guys for your part in that.”
I’ll tell you, Neil and I have always been supporters of charities but it’s always only been monetarily. We give to several organizations that are meaningful to us and it has always been rewarding to do so, but it seemed we were too busy to really “get involved”. But this experience, in meeting the families and donors and seeing that in some small way we could make a difference just by being there, well that was a different experience altogether and one we will not soon forget.
As I said, I’ve posted some pictures and apparently this is ‘TV week’ for Alyssa because the PR director for the event came up to me while I was talking to a family and asked if I would mind doing a segment for the local NBC coverage of the race. I looked around behind me and didn’t see anyone else and then checked to see if I was wearing a “Will work for TV time” sign. When I didn’t find either one, I chalked it up to the “Luckiest Girl in the World” thing. I’m not sure when it aired yesterday but Neil, the proud husband, took a picture of my “live” debut. I was laughing when he showed me the picture because I have the silliest look on my face…maybe I don’t want to see that segment afterall…
Anyway, THANK YOU to all of you for your support and for those of you who have already registered your emails on the new website. For those who haven’t yet, please do when you have a sec. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend, I know we have and Happy Halloween!!
With love and many thanks,