Unbreakable spirit

One of my personal heroes, a close friend from college days at North Dakota State University, announced last week that he’s facing a battle with cancer.

In the most unassuming way, Jason chose to break the news to most people through a blog post on CaringBridge, a website devoted to sharing the stories of people facing serious medical issues, which then has been shared through other social media networks.

Our paths crossed more than two decades ago as NDSU students – we shared the same major, worked at the student newspaper together, joined a fraternity, attended concerts and spent quite a bit of free time hanging out. It was an honor simply being a part of his wedding party, and as luck would have it, we even moved to the Twin Cities and lived in the same Eden Prairie apartment complex after college. A few years later, even though career ambitions took me to Iowa for a stint, we ended up back in the Fargo-Moorhead.

His gregarious, outgoing personality brings a light-hearted mood every place he goes. He and his wife, parents to four children, are the friendliest and most likable people I’ve ever met.

As things turned out, Jason called me one day several years ago – we hadn’t had the opportunity to chat for some time – and he asked me about running. He saw this blog and wanted to start running, too.

Sure, he saw the benefits for his health, and his family, if he were a runner. But soon he would be running to help raise money and awareness for other people. His kindness has always been inspirational and motivating for me.

As a part of Jason’s testimonial, he mentioned that he plans to beat cancer – and then run a half marathon. He wants to run and raise dollars and awareness for cancer research. The power of his spirit, and determination to be a light to the world, is a blessing to all who know him.

And that’s why I plan to run at the Fargo Marathon on his behalf.

Recently, I had been wavering on the idea, mainly because training has been a bit of a yo-yo for me. High mileage one week, low mileage the next. The lack of consistency, and leg injuries, had me on the brink of passing on racing this spring.

But running in Fargo – and doing it on his behalf – now isn’t about racing. It’s about making a statement, raising awareness, supporting a dear friend and his family. This is about priorities in life. I’m hoping there are people who will join me in the effort.

There is a lot more to share: about Jason and his terrific family, this journey, the adventures that lie ahead. There’s a lot to share from this past week, about life and running and one of the most bizarre weeks in my memory on many levels. There’s more to write about those who will join me to run on Jason’s behalf, and I hope to figure out some details in short order. Some other thoughts need to be shared, too, so look for some more postings in the near future.

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