CFF XTreme Hike/Dolan Half-Marathon Thank You

Let’s wrap this up. The 2013 Xtreme Hike and the Dolan/Steffen Half Marathon Collaboration have successfully concluded!!

One week ago today I was embroiled in the 21 mile Xtreme Hike that you are all familiar with. It was pretty awesome and I’m going to make it an annual thing. There were 19 of us in total and the whole group raised over $75,000 for CFF, making it quite successful. It took about eight hours to finish. It was hard, but it wasn’t anywhere close to a superhuman effort by yours truly.

If you want superhuman, look no further than my college buddy Dennis. He turned in a superhuman effort for sure, but I’m not just talking about his finishing third in his age group at the Chicago Half Marathon (or kicking out a final 6:00 mile). A blazing performance for sure, but that was only the capper for an outpouring of generosity by his whole work/family complex. This started because he noticed my wife Gail raising money on Facebook for CFF and he simply offered his help in conjunction with the half marathon. I kind of took it to the extreme, but that’s the point, I guess.

To be sure, Dennis is a great friend, and I know he’d walk through walls for me, so some sort of support was not surprising. But this, WOW! It struck me the night before the race, when I was at the Dolan house shoveling in Penny’s killer pasta sauce, that Dennis and Penny really pulled out all the stops for this. It was one of the purest forms of kindness for which I’ve ever been on the receiving end. Thanks again Dennis and Penny, it meant a lot. I’m glad we shared the experience.

While I’m on the subject of superhuman efforts, YOU, the DONORS certainly turned one in as well. I’ve never met many of you and most of you don’t even have a connection to cystic fibrosis, yet you made donations that were beyond any standard measure of generosity.

The end result is that the Dolan/Steffen Half Marathon Collaboration raised over $7,500, and in total Gail and I exceeded the $12,000 mark for the Xtreme Hike. That’s you folks, being generous, and caring. That’s superhuman. I still struggle with the words to thank everybody.

We can’t really discuss superhuman efforts without bringing up all those who suffer from cystic fibrosis, like my 11-month-old niece Maddie. When I walk into a room and see Maddie, her eyes lock onto mine and she starts smiling and waving. She’s the most outwardly happy and animated newborn I’ve ever been around. This is amazing especially considering that every breath she takes is a superhuman effort. Her body is trying to thwart some of its most basic functions which you and I take for granted, like digesting a bite of food, but she just keeps laughing. She never gets a break from this, ever, but it doesn’t stop her from being happy.

It’s a sobering thought when I consider the things I take for granted. When I finished the Xtreme Hike, I took off my pack and my shoes and sat in relief as I cooled my feet in the Manistee River. I had carried a burden for 21 miles and now it was off my back, done, and over with. Simple as that. Life was hard for a little bit, then it was easy, back to normal.

Maddie can’t just shed the burden of CF, it’s part of her. But I hope that some day she can feel this same sort of relief – that her disorder can be cured. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has been instrumental in curing about 4% of CF cases and your donation helps them continue the research so that some day every person with cystic fibrosis can live a completely normal life.

Remember, CF is an orphan disease, so it gets very little assistance from the government. The progress made by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is funded mostly by private donations, exactly like the ones you made.

Thanks and thank you and many thanks. I can’t say it enough different ways, but know that I feel it.