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By the time you read this article, I will have run the 10K Falmouth Road Race (God willing!), held this past Sunday, Aug. 15. As last year, I ran this race as a fundraiser for the Jimmy Fund, in memory of my late sister Jill, who passed away some years ago from Hodgkin's lymphoma. I write this article to you for two reasons: first, to share some memories from last year's run, and secondly to reflect on the overwhelming goodness of the human spirit that I have experienced through this event.
Last year, I had every intention of running a picture-perfect race, with my stirring finale across the finish line, accompanied by an inspiring musical score soaring in the background. Instead, due to a knee injury I incurred while training two weeks before the race, I limped painfully to the finish. In fact, I limped painfully throughout the entire 7-plus miles! In addition, in a classic example of absent-mindedness, I locked myself out of my car on the Cape the night before the race. While I fortunately had my racing apparel and wallet in my hotel room, I had no idea how I would get from East Dennis to Falmouth, and back home, the next day. Two unsuccessful visits by AAA in the late evening, 3 hours of restless sleep, a $100 cab ride to the Bourne Bridge at 5:45 a.m. on Sunday morning, and being shuttled back and forth by close friends, saved the day (and lightened my wallet). Needless to say, it was not quite the "picture-perfect race" I had imagined!
Yet, I have wonderful memories of last year's exhilarating race. On a crystal clear Sunday morning, Falmouth was alive with runners, family and friends, visitors, and those lining the route to cheer on the gathered throng (10,000 strong). I gave my kudos to the elderly hippie lady, who serenaded us on the keyboards from her upper deck in Woods Hole with a spirited rendition of the Fats Domino classic "Blueberry Hill." (What was in her coffee?) I took my hat off to the gentleman on Surf Drive strumming his electric guitar and singing a slowed-down-countrified version of Elvis' "Hound Dog." (Can you please pick up the tempo just a little bit?) In the midst of this very colorful experience, I was inspired by the gentleman I saw running on one leg with a joyful smile, and the many people raising funds for various and worthy causes.
So my real reason for sharing these experiences is to express to you the kindness of the human heart I saw evidenced both at the Falmouth Road Race and in the response I received to my efforts at fundraising for cancer treatment and research. "God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good." (Genesis 1:31) In our rough and tumble culture, it is easy for us to overlook the innate goodness of the human person, created in God's image. Last year, seeing people running not for their own pleasure, but for so many good and noble charities, truly inspired me. I can assure you that I was overwhelmed not only by the generous financial response of parishioners, friends and even strangers, but also by their desire for me, while I ran, to pray for their loved ones who have passed on from cancer or are living with the disease. In preparation for this year's Falmouth Road Race, I will be carrying with me not only some liquid gel packets for quick energy and a running watch to monitor my time, but the heartfelt prayer requests of numerous people. I could imagine no better tribute to my sister Jill, who reached out to countless patients as a compassionate and faith-filled oncology nurse, than to carry in my heart the loving and caring prayers of so many.
Father Bryan K. Parrish is Assistant Vicar for Administration and Special Assistant to the Vicar General.