Courage. “The power or quality of dealing with or facing danger, fear, pain.” Most people know this word but perhaps have never pondered it in depth. Not many people would use this word to describe themselves. Yet, if you think about it, the word courage is not reserved for people who risk their lives. Courage can be exhibited by each of us every day because danger, fear, and pain are all a part of life.
Stroller Warriors, for one, show immense courage. Yes, I’m talking to YOU! As awesome as this club is, most of our members are very nervous before their first workout. Fear of failure, disappointment, and loneliness can be so overwhelming that it seems easier to stay home. Trying something new is intimidating…especially if they are also new to the area, new to parenting, or new to military life in general, as many military spouses are. On top of that, their spouse might be deployed. Their child might be struggling in school. Their family might be sick back home. They have never run a day in their life. Or, they did compete many years ago and they’re nervous to get back out there and fall short of their own expectations. This is enough to make anyone retreat to a safe cave and never emerge! Somehow they find a way to rise above, get out of the house, and do something positive in the midst of this inner turmoil. THAT is courage and that is something to be proud of.
I want to share another story of courage. While some of us are striving to find courage to run, others are striving to find a way to move at all.
Cole’s life isn’t easy. From a very young age, he had to think about his limitations and make responsible decisions to work around it. I think it takes a lot of courage to try to crawl up a flight of stairs when he knows it might not be possible. He sometimes tries anyway, usually motivated to retrieve a toy from his bedroom! He has to ask an adult to help him use the restroom. He doesn’t act frustrated. Actually, he almost always tells me he loves me while we are in the bathroom. I think he feels love from us when we help him, and he appreciates it. Cole is unable to walk independently. He gets around anyway, whether he’s crawling, swimming, walking with his gait trainer, or racing in his power wheelchair.(And yes, I do mean RACE. He prides himself in his speed!) One way or another, he moves. He labors and struggles. When we urge him to try, he trusts us and forges on.
To be in this trial, he has to undergo a lot of tests, pokes, procedures, doctor visits, and overnight hospital stays. A hospital is an intimidating place for any kid. He picks up on the tension and tells me he doesn’t want to be there. He hates the anesthesia and fights going to sleep. The doctors wake him up at early hours for more tests. Sometimes my emotions and guilt get the best of me. I see the IV in his tiny arm and the questioning looks in his tired blue eyes. I think to myself, why am I doing this to him. We hear the cries in the hallways, and despite the noise, it feels lonely. I think to myself, we don’t have to be here. More than once, my husband and I have discussed in depth, are we making the right choice? These are the times when some anger can find it’s way into my soul. I wish Cole didn’t have to deal with all this.
How do I get through those moments? Well, my husband is always my rock...and so is my little 6-year-old. Despite the fact he knows a needle hurts, that blood is creepy, and going to sleep is scary, he trusts us and remains happy. He wakes up from the anesthesia and smiles. He teases the nurses and insists they race to get his apple juice. And runners you’ll be proud of this…he TIMES them. The nurse did not take him seriously at first. She returned and he promptly informed her she took 167 seconds, and he said it in a tone of voice inferring, "you’d better hustle next time." I burst out laughing and so did she! While we stay overnight, he plays X-Box incessantly and slyly requests chocolate cake for breakfast. I totally let him. These rewards seem small in comparison to the courage he shows.
I am very proud of him.
Then there’s Hailey. At 2 years old, she adores her brothers and takes pride in helping Cole. For example, when she asks for a cookie for herself, she won’t leave without taking one to Cole too! She serves as his messenger and comes and finds me when he needs help. I’ve also caught her trying to carry him places herself, which is not exactly safe, but you can’t help but marvel at a toddler trying to carry a 6-year-old.
I doubt these three kids grasp what courage truly means. But to me, they define it. There is no cure (yet) but these three children still show great courage in the face of Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Despite any danger, fear, and pain over what Cole endures and what his future holds, they are HAPPY and I think perhaps that is the greatest display of courage of all. It takes courage to smile and persevere with a positive outlook when you’re faced with an insurmountable challenge. The attitude we have and HOW we face obstacles is our choice. As long as we rely on a team of loved ones around us, the courage to seek goals and happiness will present itself.
We hope you join us in celebrating courage this entire month! In honor of National SMA Awareness Month, Stroller Warriors Running Club is excited to present our fourth annual "Run for Cole" fundraiser for CureSMA. Throughout the month of August, we will be:
1) Selling "Courage for Cole" shirts until Aug 16:
2) Hosting the "Run for Cole" Virtual 5K:
3) Accepting online donations:
Please “Like” our business page and join our “Courage for Cole” Facebook event at https://www.facebook.com/events/864672450284764/ to learn more about how you can participate. We've collectively raised $17,000 the past three years and our goal is to top $20,000 this year!
Family, friends, and Stroller Warriors, you have shown unwavering support over the years, and we can never fully express what that means to us. Your continued prayers, letters, donations, and moral support have been astounding. THANK YOU. We wish you all a courageous journey, no matter what yours may be.
Founder and CEO
Stroller Warriors Running Club