Friday, July 10, 2009

Strength in numbers

I had the privilege of taking part in an amazing event last week, the Rock for Broc One Mile Fundraising Challenge. The event was a series of one-mile races on the track at Macalester College. It was organized by Mercy Ray & Pam Weier, Run n Fun women's racing team teammates of the event's honoroee, Cindy Brochman.

Ray & Weier did an amazing job, start to finish. They recruited an astonishing number of volunteers, secured a timing crew and announcing crew, solicited countless items for raffles and drawings and were genial hosts throughout the evening.

But the most remarkable part of the event last week was not the incredible show of community support through volunteers, donations, participants and spectators (although those were all out of this world.)

The most remarkable thing was Brochman herself.

The event was a fundraiser for local standout athlete Brochman (runner, cross country skier, triathlete, volleyball player, snowshoe racer - I know I always forget something).

Since December 2008 she has been locked in a fierce battle against stomach cancer. While conventional medicine has deemed Brochman 'terminal,' no one, especially not Brochman and her family, are taking that lying down.

She has been seeking guidance in her fight from a number of sources - beyond even the loving support of untold numbers of family, friends and even some strangers! She's very eloquently sharing her journey and all the ups and downs of this awful disease through her caringbridge journal.

In some of her dealings with alternative medicine practitioners she has mentioned that they told her she had a very strong body. Many of us know of people who have overcome incredible odds in life based on three factors: positive attitude, fighting spirit and the fact that they are athletes. (Lance Armstrong anyone?)

I had a couple of different people come up to me (I was the bossy woman down on the track) to ask me to point out Brochman to them. At least two people said, are you sure? She doesn't look sick. Look at her legs!

And yes, she did look amazing. Her legs are the strong legs of a lifelong athlete. She just looked great. But it wasn't until the last participant had crossed the finish line, we had cleaned up our finish chute and many of the people had gone home, that I finally had a chance to talk to Brochman.

She had mentioned a few times in her journal over the months that she wanted and needed hugs. I was eager to comply but had to patiently wait my turn all evening as there were always groups of people around Brochman. Ray & Weier should have sold tickets for hugs. Now that would have been a huge fundraiser!

After we hugged she grabbed onto my wrist while we talked. I was struck by the strength of that simple gesture. She didn't let go and I was just thinking, 'This woman is sick? She feels stronger than I do!'

It's that strength that is going to get her through this awful fight. She'll also continue to be cheered on with the strength of her amazing family, friends and entire support network. We're all sending her positive vibes and healing thoughts.

The strengh at the track last week was palpable. And, thankfully, the biggest part of it was coming from Brochman herself.

Where you at Rock for Broc? Did you feel the strength?

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