Monday, May 22, 2006

Triathlonmom Comes Full Circle

The thing I love about Richmond is how everything always comes back to you. Things come full circle and things fall into place. It is a small enough community that most of the good-spirited folks seem to know each other somehow. And you never know when some good that you've done might come back to you in some other way.

Back during my first season with Triathlonmoms, we always would raise money for a great philanthropic cause. Kim Kredich, our fearless leader, has always been involved in advocacy for kids with special needs, and so that year, we raise money for Katie and Friends Playground. It would be the first playground of its kind: for kids who needed help walking, who had autism, who were in wheelchairs, and for kids with no special needs at all. It would be a place where they could all play together, without limitations and barriers. And, it was expensive to build.
As part of our fundraising efforts, we could donate money and get a tile that would be installed on the playground, and we could decorate it anyway we chose. For our family tile, we had Daisyhead Maisy place her handprints. She was only 2 so we could fit both hands, and we wrote her name.
The only thing was, when I went to the playground after the grand opening, there were plenty of tiles, but not ours. For months, I kept checking the tile towers, and not a one from Triathlonmoms was there. It was disapointing. But, I was so happy with the cause and the playground, I soon forgot.
This year, our team is renting poolspace for our Sunday swim, not far from the Katie and Friends Playground. It fact, we run on a gravel path from the pool over to the trails by the park for our 3 mile run before we swim. Most Sunday nights it is packed with kids and parents winding up their weekend. Filled with huge families, barbequeing or holding birthday parties. Last night, as I was running down the gravel path through the trees I noticed something new. There were 3 new towers on the playground. They were filled with tiles! I cut through the forest off the path, straight to the towers. I searched the first one with no luck. On the second one, a name caught my eye. Right above a smeary blob of blue was "Scout." Then I remembered -- Kim's dog, Scout.
I was so excited I ran around the metal fence of the park to the entrance to get closer to the tiles. I must have looked so strange racing through the playground, dodging kids to get to the towers, that were still roped of with caution tape becuase they hadn't yet been grouted.
I started at the top....Tish, Nate, Hugh....moved to Tennesse later that year. God I miss them. ...Oliver, Finn, Anne....Kim and Matt, Matt's giant hand overlapping Kim's....Ben, Miles, Coleman...Rachel and Theo. the names kept coming. It was like a time capsule of that summer that changed my life. The summer I discovered triathlons. Discovered that I could do something hard if I put my mind to it. That summer I discovered a whole team of amazing, inspiring women, all moms, dedicated to helping each other discover just how strong they are.
Then, at the very bottom, I saw Daisyhead Maisy's hands. So small and carefully placed.
It had been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait.
Running back to the pool, didn't seem so hard. That first summer raced through my head. The summer that set me free and taught me balance. My mind was filled with memories, and didn't have much room left to think about tired legs. That summer I learned that sometimes the best thing you can do for your family (and 2-year-old who is screaming "mama, mama don't go") is walk out that door. And come back after you've done just one thing for yourself.

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