I must admit, when I was stretching this morning at home I was a bit nervous. After all, I was about to partake in my first race since 1992 when I stopped running the Waveny Park concert series. I was filled with self-doubt, which is a runner’s worst enemy.

Once I got down to Columbus Park, my self-doubt was replaced by an overwhelming sense of emotion. In the sea of orange tee shirts I saw young people and old people. I saw people of many different nationalities and faith backgrounds. I saw two nuns wearing full habits and smiles as they spoke with participants before the race started. Then I saw Jack Stobbie whose wife Jean lost her battle with cancer a few months ago. I was running on Jean’s Team and, upon seeing Jack, I had to fight back tears.

I saw friends from High School and people I used to lifeguard with who are now doctors at Stamford Hospital (which is a very scary thought because I also remember our staff parties). I saw teachers from my children’s school and parishioners from St. Gabriel Parish in Stamford, the church I grew up in.

At the starting line, I was again filled with doubts. I had to wrestle with the question, “Will I be able to do this?” Then the DJ played Beautiful Day by U2 and all doubt was erased.

I started running and did not stop until 3.1 miles later. When I felt tired I thought of Maria, my grandmother, who lost her battle in 1992. I thought of Randy, my best friend’s mother, who lost her battle before she could meet her granddaughter. I thought of Kim who is battling now, of Susan who is in remission, and of Kevin who lost his battle last week and whose funeral I will miss tomorrow because of a business trip. I thought of Nyree who is a survivor and of Declan who is surviving.

When I crossed the finish line I did not focus on the pain in my knees or the sense of fatigue I started to experience at the two-mile mark. I felt proud to take a small step in battling a disease that does not afflict based on gender, age, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation.

Of course, I could not do it without my sponsors. The thirty-five members of Jean’s team raised $2,761. Of that, I was responsible for $356.00. In particular I want to thank the following:

Nick Cappiello for once again proving that the best friends someone can make are indeed made in grammar school.

Greg Dowd and Mike Morgan for reminding me that brotherhood is not for a day, a year, or a college term, but for life. AEKDB

Brent Bodick for reminding me that, no matter how long it has been since you see ach other, that a true friend will be there when asked.

Marc Becker for reminding me that not all people who work at Unilever are nutty (or are they?).

And Nick Braccia for just being the person you have always been since the squelch days.

I also want to thank all of you who kept me and my fellow runners/walkers in your thoughts and prayers including Carrie Hall, Robin Falkoff, Nyree Pinto, and Joe Andreana.

For those of you who would still want to make a donation, the Bennett Cancer Center is keeping this drive open until the fall. You can make a donation online using the link below.

Thank you all once again!