The Thousandth Mile

I’ve mentioned before that I live in Monroe, CT.  We here have been deeply affected by the events that took place on 12/14.  I wrote extensively about the charity 5K I put together (with a lot of help!).  One of the groups that benefitted from that race was the Race4Chase organization.  They get involved with various athletic events and encourage runners especially to run to raise money for their foundation, the Chase Kowalski Foundation.  Chase was an avid runner, even at 7.  He had competed in races and triathalons.  His energy and spirit are the rationale behind the cause.

Monroe is one of those places that people don’t leave.  It’s a small town in close enough proximity to NYC that there are plenty of reasons to stay.  Not only is it beautiful here, but there is a true sense of community here.  The people here are so nice; nicer than pretty much anywhere I’ve lived, and that includes my own hometown in Michigan.  Chase’s parents grew up here in Monroe, and didn’t go far.  They live next door in the Sandy Hook area of Newtown.  A lot of their friends from high school also live nearby, including one named Kevin Bresnahan.

Kevin is a runner, and not long after last December’s tragedy, he had the brainstorm to run a 1,000 miles this year in honor of Chase.  He’d heard that Chase had loved running and races, so he thought it was the one thing he could do to help.  He asked people to sponsor his miles, at $10 per mile.  His efforts actually helped give focus to the idea that eventually became Race4Chase, running to raise money for the foundation.  He started a blog to journal about each and every mile, and it can be read here:  1000 Miles 4 Chase.

He started last January.  I started reading it back then, and it was amazing to watch the miles, and the money, add up.  Kevin ran our local 5K as part of those miles, and I joined him for another 5K later that month.  He ran, and ran, and ran.  And lo and behold, the miles have added up.  This weekend, he finished.

As he neared the end, Kevin and some of the friends of the Kowalski family hatched an idea to share that last mile of his journey.  He worked with them to plan a route, a meeting place, get a police escort, and a big party for afterwards.  The last mile started at Chalk Hill School, where the Sandy Hook students now go.  It ended at their good friend’s house, just a mile away.  So meaningful.

This weekend was that last mile, and I was one of nearly 100 people who came out to complete that last mile with Kevin.  It was an awe inspiring, amazing time.   It was hot, so much of the route was walked by most of us, and I walked up part of the route with Becky Kowalski.  What an amazing energy and spirit she has.  She was upbeat, and positive, and even joked about how much she hated running, and why couldn’t Chase had loved a different sport that was less taxing?   She was incredible.

At the end, Kevin held Becky’s hand and ran through a finish line in their friend’s yard.  Then they both jumped in the pool to cool off.  And stayed to party with everyone who had come out in support of them.  It was friendship and love and support and faith and strength all together in one thirty minute span of time.

They inspire me.

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