What a day it was!
At 6:45Am today – I arrived at the starting line of the “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way 5k” fun run. Waiting for me, were well over 20 youngsters – teenagers, bundled up warmly to hold off the 30 degree weather. They were cold, they were tired – but they were full of excitement. “Mr. T” they yelled and ran to the car – giving me huge hugs and “love you mans” as we began to unload boxes, tents, tables, food, water, souvenirs, signs – you name it – 5 car loads full… but we got it done laughing all the way.
For an hour we worked getting the “welcome area” ready – then they crowds started to stroll in… and they just kept coming – well over 1000 people arrived checking in to a very organized and glitch free check-in area (thanks to Susie’s Army for that) – sipping donated Starbucks Coffee, for Coke supplied drinks – hugging old and new friends – speaking with volunteers from Suicide awareness organizations, viewing “Quilts of Love” honoring our friends and loved ones no longer with us, to church groups, youth groups, teams of all sorts, ball clubs, school clubs, families, friends, old and young … all on the same team – our team!
Then the kisses from Heaven started to fall – “Kisses from Will”…. yes, it started to snow in Atlanta – Will’s way of having a bit of fun with his friends and family…. as the 1000+ runners (official numbers not in yet) settled in at the starting line the flakes continued, Susie and I made them all say “I love you man” and as they did – you could feel the energy…. Mayor Bodker introduced our celebrity starters – Michael Trainer and Sarah Biondich, who created this event a year ago as the official starters, and off we went (OK they went – I cheered on).
Well 5 hours after I arrived in the dark – I left in the cold and windy but partly sunny day for home. So thrilled, so proud to be a part of this Foundation – quite simply the best organization I’ve ever been a part of. So much support … from over 1000 participants to over 50 sponsors ranging from old school friends and teammates, to neighbors and customers, to families, to large corporate companies, and small private owned start-ups – all proudly being displayed on the official race T-Shirts that people were wearing over their sweatshirts. So fun to see the Red Sox and Yankees logo’s sitting side by side agreeing that Life Teammates is a good thing!
A day created by kids, organized by kids (Hayden Cox and Brett Tighe, a couple of sophomore student athletes at Northview High were the coordinators this year) and implemented by kids with help from their Life Teammate trusted adults. All with the same goal of clearly wanting to be there for each other – running, skating, scooting, walking and dancing the 5k – together. But not just here in Atlanta… They skied in Kitzbuhel Austria for the Will to Live, they ran in Sarasota & VA too – they hiked through snow in Philly, Boston, N. Andover, New Jersey and Chicago as well. They danced in Hong Kong – they hiked in Germany … all for the kids – giving to the cause – “The more you give the greater the Will to Live!” Yes Indeed!
Well because of this wonderful global community, the Foundation will be giving back over $35,000 that was raised at this year’s Where There’s A Will There’s A Way 5k – exceeding last year’s record setting results and all our expectations… as a result – so much more to come!
Wishing You All – Love – Hope & The Will to Live – For The Kids!