My father-in-law, Chris, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) a little over two years ago. I remember that because Eric was showing us his Folsom Dam project while his parents were in town. Eric said something about his dad slurring words and that he is going to a neurologist to find out why.
The alarm somewhere deep in my chest was immediately going off, but I didn’t say anything. My ears kept perking up every time I heard him speak – trying to catch every word to hear for myself, hoping it wasn’t true. And that’s where the story began for me.
I am dedicating my first marathon to Chris, and to raising money for the ALS Association. I cannot think of a better reason to run.
I read in a book somewhere that our lives are like stories – in movies and books. And apparently, an “inciting incident” is something that changes everything. It’s a doorway through which a character cannot return and is forced to take a new direction.
Only ALS takes that away from us too. It changes things every single day.
Let’s just lay it on the table and say it like it is. ALS sucks. There is no flowery word to describe what this disease does to Chris each and every day. As I see it, no day is like the previous for him. ALS is ruthless and it doesn’t give you time to adapt.
So instead of running the marathon for the intrinsic joy of completing something hard, I’m running it because I want to bring us together to take the change head on. And although ALS changes many things, it doesn’t change all the things that I love about Chris.He is a man who…rode his bike to work every single day for 35 years He is a man who…wrote a beautiful wedding toast for me and Eric – in prose poetry He is a man who…handcrafted most of our wedding decorations – crates, chalkboards, panels, and signs He is a man who…knows how to hold down the dance floor He is a man who…gave me an old commuter bike no matter how hard it is for him to part with things he saves He is a man who…is an incredible father – I know because he is to my husband who loves him dearly He is a man who…has a nickname for everyone in the family (I’m still waiting for mine) He is a man who…inspires Eric to ride his bike when he doesn’t want to He is a man who…now….speaks to me through hugs
But most of all, he is a man I think about when I need to find courage. It’s the kind of courage only he truly knows, but I need from time to time.
So you see, he is inspiration to us all because we all need some of it, right?
So while I’m running my marathon, I will be thinking of you, Chris, and our community of family and friends who I hope will come together in a beautiful way. Maybe I’ll even have time to think of a nickname you can give me because I don’t want to feel left out.
Please support my run by donating to the ALS Association Western Chapter. Your support – no matter how big or small – means so much. Your donation will go directly to those currently living with ALS in our communities who need our help as well as research, research, research. Your dollar will keep advancing new discoveries and treatments and shed light on the complex genetic and environmental factors involved in ALS.
Click below to go to my fundraising page. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Flashback…parents and all the Bardet siblings, Ryan, Kyle, and Annie, at our wedding.