Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Officially a J-Pouched Triathlete (because of YOU!)

I signed up for Team Challenge for two reasons: 1. to push my physical limits and see what my body (and mind) are made of and 2. to use my unfortunately close connection to IBD in a positive way: to find a CURE. But, as I sit here today sifting through the pictures of event weekend, trying to find the image that best sums up my experience with Team Challenge over the past four+ months, I find that I am not drawn to the picture of me running down the shoot, crossing the finish line. The image that best captures the high emotions of the entire experience is one of my teammates and coaches running in one of the most amazing, courageous and determined women I have ever met in my life (yes, you Pam!). And those people running her in? They were just as incredible.

For those of you that have followed my blog from the start, you know that 2011 was the most challenging year of my life. Yes, it was the year I married the most wonderful man on earth, but it was also defined by Remicade failure, anaphylaxis, three major abdominal surgeries, months of hospitalization, blood clots, abscesses, small bowel obstructions, and many more trying episodes after battling ulcerative colitis for the preceding ten years. 

Anticipating the birth of our incredible miracle in January of 2013, I knew this year was going to be great. I just didn't know how mind-blowingly great. And the thing is, what made this year THAT great had nothing to do with ME or my own health. The best thing about 2013? Eva, of course, but also Pam, Patty, Jan, Christine, Kerin, Billy, Mark, Vicki, Jim, Carolyn and the beautiful, yet challenging stories that brought us all together. I've been on many teams in my life, but this was the first team I have ever been a part of where everyone was there for something much bigger than themselves. The pure altruism of our team, and the larger Team Challenge team, permeated the atmosphere of the weekend. The result was intoxicating.

And addictive. The car ride home from the airport was marked by depression, sadness, and a very real withdrawal. But, as I've learned from my TC teammates, we've always gotta look on the bright side. So, here's to TC 2014!  

I also need to thank each and every one of you for contributing to that altruistic atmosphere of the weekend. We received a total of 102 donations (but many by teams or couples, so the number of donors is substantially higher), and we raised $11,410 (146% of our goal!!!). You all made fundraising for this very worthy cause EASY. Billy and I were overwhelmed by this sense that each of you just wanted to help. We didn't have to entice people to donate by hosting events or selling raffle tickets. Every single donation we received was made, not because you might win an I-Pad, but because you wanted to HELP. We were so incredibly touched that we were powered to 146% of our goal by the pure selflessness and generosity of our friends and family. This experience has proven my suspicion that humanity is, truly, innately selfless and empathic (those economists have NO clue what they're talking about!). An ENORMOUS thank you, on behalf of CCFA and the 1.5 million Americans suffering from IBD (including myself!).

Oh, and as a side note, yes I can now officially call myself a J-Pouched Triathlete!