Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Run of Hope

Last Sunday was a day that I still can't get out of my mind. The day was filled with so many wonderful things. Amidst the complete and total chaos of almost 1200 walkers and runners at Seward Park there were some absolutely incredible people. The Run of Hope is in its 4th year now and I've been lucky enough to emcee it each year. On September 30th over $300,000 was raised in the fight against pediatric brain tumors bringing the 4 year total to just over $1,000,000!

In every fight there is a champion, and it doesn't matter whether or not they 'win' the battle. The winner is the person who champions the cause, the moment, or the struggle, with energy, emotion and Hope. Seward Park was filled with champions a week ago and at every turn I kept bumping into them. There were doctors and researchers who have dedicated their lives to caring for children and finding a cure for pediatric cancer and there also were families who have endured the worst nightmare imaginable, losing a child, and yet on this day they were filled with Hope and united with a common goal. These families raised money and walked or ran in honor of their own child or the children of others. My dear friends, the Strauss family, who lost their daughter Gloria to cancer in 2007, were there in force to rally support for their cousin Stephanie who is struggling bravely at the moment.

The energy at this event was so hopeful because something tangible was being done to find a cure for cancer. That Hope at times was tempered with great loss. My heart was heavy when over the course of the event I spoke with 5 different moms who have all lost a child to cancer in the last few years. Their strength is beyond belief and should be an inspiration and a call to action for anyone that can help in this fight. One mom in particular, Heather Hughes, lost her beautiful daughter Sarah to cancer two years ago. The "Sarah Mary" award now goes to the top fundraising team and quite fittingly, Team Sarah Mary with their overwhelming support, has won this award every year. I had the great pleasure of meeting Sarah a few years ago and I still remember her engaging smile and the quiet grace that she so willingly shared with everyone.

Every little bit helps. A year ago, with my friend Ann Marie, we started Team Ninja! with only a week to go before the Run of Hope, and still we raised over $800. This year, I got Team Ninja! going just two weeks ahead of time and thanks to some very generous friends and the incredible Dice family (whose hilarious daughter Maggie is a cancer survivor), we raised almost $4400. Next year we will start earlier and welcome as many fundraising Ninja warriors to this fight as we can. You just can't go wrong with Ninjas on your side and together with all the other people that are passionate about this cause and this event, I sincerely do think there is Hope for the future.

Faces of Champions:

Race founder Erin Cordry's son Max, brain cancer survivor with little brother Beck on his shoulders.

Maggie Dice, cancer survivor and all around awesome kid.
Four incredible people, from left Cory, Rich and Jim who have decades long résumés at Seattle Children's and Run of Hope founder Erin
Fellow cancer survivors and great friends Eloise (whose senior portraits I just took) and Max

Team Ninja! greeting participants at the finish line.
Fellow Ninjas, Gracie and Kara in a familiar pose!

Run of Hope founder and professional instigator of awesomeness, Erin Cordry
I have no idea who this is, but she screamed "Hope" at me without saying a word!
Auctioneer Larry Snyder with daughter and official race "starter" Daniela.
The Strauss family with friends (but 8 of them are Strauss')
Next year, with your help, the Team Ninja! army will be even bigger!

Heather Hughes, Sarah's mom, with her father.

Sarah, bless her sweet heart.

1 comment:

  1. You are indefatigable, Paul. Don't you love that word? Indefatigable= not able to be fatigued, tireless, unstoppable. I love your devotion to your cancer peeps and their children and families (like ours), your ability to mix it up with sadness, hope, grief, humor and love and face it all without flinching. We need more people like you in this world. Your generosity to the community makes all the difference, and it makes what could be dull days FUN. Camp, fundraisers, auction meetings - all are fun because you know how to grab each moment of each day and appreciate the heck out of it. Thank you for all you do for your friends, colleagues, peeps and extended family. I feel blessed to be one of them.
    You ARE the Best Photographer of Western Washington!