I distinctly remember the day…mid-October I received a call on my cell from an unknown number. Even though I was at work, I answered….given everything that we juggle for Jadon, I’m conditioned to answer the phone even if I don’t recognize the number. On the other end this lady introduced herself as Amy, the PTO President at Rolling Ridge. Why was she calling me? My mind began racing – was she calling to welcome us to Rolling Ridge Elementary since this was Jadon’s first year? Was she going to ask me to volunteer for a committee or help with an upcoming event? I was trying to formulate how I could politely tell her – unfortunately I won’t have time. You see – I was 7 months pregnant, we were still getting accustomed to Jadon’s trach, preparing for Gracyn’s arrival and we were starting a foundation on top of everything.
Well, the next words out of her mouth absolutely floored me. She told me that she had learned of Jadon and his story from one of her good friends that had a daughter in Jadon’s class and that she recently visited the Jadon’s Hope Foundation website. She said she was so moved and inspired by Jadon that she felt compelled to do something in his honor and had already contacted the facility, staff and other PTO members of Rolling Ridge to coordinate and organize an event. Majority of the “committee members” were avid runners so they thought about putting together a 5K….and would we be okay with that? Wait – did I just hear her correctly?!? Umm….yeah, of course we would!! WOW! Needless to say – I was completely speechless (which if you ask Tony – doesn’t happen often!).
Later that week I attended a committee meeting and went home absolutely FIRED UP to tell Tony all the details. As we discussed the meeting, I remember we both said numerous times – if they (committee members) could pull off everything that was planned – it was going to be an amazing event. Oh, how right we were! And so began the journey of the 1st Annual Jadon’s Hope BUG Run and the beginning of some incredible friendships.
I cannot adequately put into words all the dedication and effort that transpired over the course of the next several months. Countless hours, long days, weekends – these ladies stopped at NOTHING! And to know that all net proceeds would benefit Jadon’s Hope Foundation enabling us to carry out our mission of promoting educational awareness and funding much needed research efforts while providing support for families affected by terminal childhood diseases.
From our sponsorship committee that pounded the pavement and made tons of phone calls in order to secure 19 corporate sponsors to our marketing committee that created logos, marketing material and posters….oh and then went around to every business they could think of to pass out information. From our race day committee that coordinated and organized registrations and packet pick-up for over 500 participants to our volunteer committee that orchestrated over 150 volunteers to help on race day. From the Boy Scout Troop that handed out 1,000 door hangers notifying neighbors in the Rolling Ridge area of the upcoming race to Rolling Ridge Elementary for so generously hosting the race. And for Fox4News, Action 41 News and the Kansas City Star for coming out to interview us and share our story with everyone in Kansas City. Awareness was being spread and hearts were being touched. For this, we cannot begin to thank everyone enough!
Finally – race day was upon us. All those months of preparation and hard work were staring us right in the face. And while the day was crazy it was OH. SO. GOOD!!! As all the runners began to line up by their pace signs, a lump began to well up in my throat. These people were here to support Jadon. They were inspired by him and his story. They wanted to run for him and all those impacted by SMA. And they, like us, so desperately want to see an end to SMA. Since the race went right by our house, we strategically placed Jadon out front so every runner, every walker would be able to see him waving and cheering them on. I honestly don’t know who was taking pictures more – us or the participants as they were racing by BUG…what a sight to see! And the Bitty BUG Run…oh my!! To see all those kiddos line up then take off down the street with their capes flying behind them was truly an awesome moment. In fact – so awesome that we ran the Bitty BUG run not once, not twice, but three times!! But the pinnacle event that will forever be etched in my mind was completely spontaneous – a spur of the moment thought suggested by Tony’s cousin. He came over to me and asked, “You’re going to walk Jadon across the finish line, right?” So with Tony pushing Gracyn and me pushing BUG – we crossed the finish line as a family with everyone cheering, clapping, whistling and yelling Jadon’s name. BE STILL MY HEART!! Needless to say – the tears just flowed.
There was so much pure AWESOMENESS wrapped up in that day – we are forever grateful and humbled that so many people chose to spend their morning with us. Planning has already begun…we are super, super excited to do it again next year!