Monday, March 21, 2011

Laurel Hill

Two weeks from Saturday, I'll run my favorite race, the Tar Heel 10 Miler, on the streets of Chapel Hill, N.C. and the gorgeous campus of the University of North Carolina.

I'll pass mile marker 1 on the L-shaped road I used to take to UNC basketball games at the "Dean Dome" and soccer practice before they turned our old field into a parking lot.

Around mile marker 5, I'll run past the Forest Theatre, where I got initiated into the co-ed honor fraternity the same night a student proposed to his girlfriend with a candlelit dinner on the stone amphitheater's grass-carpeted floor.

Near the very end of the race, I'll climb Laurel Hill, which earned its famous rep due to the fact that it climbs more than 200 vertical feet over about a mile. It's the most difficult part of the race - so much so that race organizers place separate timing mats at the bottom and top for the simple fact that any runner who notches a killer split on Laurel Hill earns automatic bragging rights.

Laurel Hill isn't easy, but my playlist, my Asics and my love for my little sister will carry me to the top. And soon after I reach that pinnacle, I'll cross the finish line.

This will be the third race I've run for Taylor since Thanksgiving, but this time, I'll have additional motivation. In 2010, I ran a slow 1:39 in the Tar Heel 10 Miler. Just two days ago in Charlotte, I ran 10 miles and beat that time by more than 20 minutes. Granted, south Charlotte doesn't have a Laurel Hill. But I'm almost a sure bet to improve on my 2010 tortoise pace this Saturday, April 9.

To honor my little sister's valiant fight against Batten disease, I'm pledging $5 for every minute under my 2010 time. I'm also asking friends to give anything they can in support of my run. I'll post my race result here on Sunday, April 10.

To donate, visit and click on the 'Donate' button in the sidebar.

I'm incredibly grateful for the support of all of our angels. Though we have many Laurel Hills ahead of us in the fight to save Taylor, we'll never stop fighting - or running.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


mir*a*cle - noun. 1: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs / 2: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment

On her way out the door following our ACC tournament fundraiser late this afternoon, a woman I'd never met walked up to me, squeezed my arm, looked right into my eyes and asked the question that forever looms in our anxious hearts: "Is she going to be okay?"

She is my sister, Taylor, who at that moment sat less than 10 feet behind me at our family's table and yet was quite clearly wrapped up in her own private, dark world far, far away. Without looking away from the woman's searching eyes, I offered only the following: "We still believe in miracles."

I dodged the woman's question, I know - but the prospect of answering directly quite honestly scares me these days. Each time the sun rises and falls, marking the end of another day without a cure for infantile Batten disease, Taylor's survival more clearly defies all logic.

When scientists finally unlock the key to this evil disease, I will not call it a miracle. I will call it great science. And I know it will happen. The question is when.

If my sister should beat this disease - that will be a miracle, and when it happens, I will fall to my knees, look up at the sky and thank God, because no matter what marvels modern medicine can conjure to make her road more comfortable, only He can ultimately lead her out of the darkness.

I'm still waiting for that miracle. But I've witnessed other miracles along the way.

Last night, Taylor attended her school dance. When my parents met John and me in the school parking lot to deliver her to us, my mom had tears in her eyes, because in our world, every 'normal' experience is emotionally charged. We smile and laugh on the outside, but on the inside, we wonder, 'Will she be able to handle it?' and 'Will this be her last one?'

As we walked down the short hallway to the cafeteria, where the dance had already started, I worried that the kids would ignore Taylor. I silently thanked God for my husband, knowing he would take Taylor's hand and lead her onto the dance floor if no one else would.

But my fears were unnecessary.

True story: three boys danced with Taylor last night. As I watched from my wallflower spot, an uncanny warmth spread from my head to my toes. And in those moments, I knew I was witnessing a miracle in its purest form - an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs. Because those were angels twirling my sister around the room.