Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ted's Run for Literacy 2016, Race Director's Report

Ted's Run for Literacy supports children living in poverty. Our vision is to  "...break the cycle of childhood poverty by supporting environments in which children flourish socially, mentally and physically." We believe children cannot learn or socialize unless:

  1. their basic needs are met (i.e. food, water, shelter) 
  2. they feel safe and secure (i.e. a home free of violence and unpredictability), 
  3. they feel they belong and are valued for who they are (i.e. they are loved)
We believe in Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory which says children (and adults) will not reach their potential unless needs (represented in the graphic below) are sequentially met.  If you're reading this, chances are good your physiological needs, safety needs, and belonging needs were met in early childhood development.  Congratulations, you can read, you are successful, you have a loving, secure family. You do not live in poverty.

Please understand, many do not.

In our six years Ted's Run for Literacy has raised between $35,000 and $40,00 to support children living in poverty, and we are gratified, and we are humbled. It is an audacious dream, an impossible dream to eliminate the cycle of childhood poverty, yet our board believes in the impossible. We invite you to join our dream, to support us, to run with us, to laugh with us, to believe it is a good day to be alive, and to share this dream with your children.  We are the little race that could and with your continued support we will become the little race that eliminated the cycle of childhood poverty.

Jo at TRL circa 2013. me clapping way in the background. 
I believe Jo watched over us on Sunday. Her physical presence was absent and yet her spirit smiled warmly upon all.  I still can't believe she's gone, but I'm stuck in denial like many of you. Our committee debated how best to acknowledge Jo. Someone suggested a 'moment of silence'. We paused and then laughed because all that know Jo understand 'silence' was not Jo's strong point.

Running with Jo was like running with the best 'talk radio' you can imagine. Gossip, opinions, last night's party, food, boyfriends, dreams, fears, laughs.. all delivered in staccato rapid fire.  Jo was like that... fun, irreverent, honest, and loyal.

Instead of silence we had a 'moment of noise' and it was spectacularly powerful. We yelled loudly. We screamed and we jumped. We laughed and we shouted and it went on and on and on. We honoured Jo with noise and movement and I believe she laughed heartily... and we cried.

While hanging banners at 6AM  I banged my head on an (expletive) overhang and it hurt like (expletive). I was alone and it was dark so I continued working thinking 'suck it up buttercup'. I had no idea of the blood pooling on my XXL forehead. A friend arrived and asked what happened to my head. Not fully realizing the wound, I removed my hat, breaking the congealed scab and the blood gushed.

I realized later I was saved from a much more serious wound by the Jo button.  Jo took the brunt of the force and left me with just enough to remind me that I'm alive. She saved me and reminds me of my mortality.  We exist moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day. Jo's death sucks yup, and yet she laughs at us, and clucks her tongue in defiance of death. Yeah, Jo's like that, crazy and noisy and gorgeous, and brilliant, and sweet, and irreverent, and she tells a good story.

Had it not been for the Jo Button I would have visited emergency for 4 or 6 stitches. She said... "careful Bennett, you could be next" and laughed.

So my friends, our little TRL 10 km (5km and 2 km) event is not the biggest event in town,  but we are without a doubt, the event with the most heart.  We believe in audacity. We believe in a world without childhood poverty.

Join us.

It is a good day to be alive, right Jo?