The last three months have been a whirlwind of training, fundraising for myself and for Sloan-Kettering and trying to have somewhat of a normal life. It hasn’t been easy but has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have been through. I have learned so much about myself, my surroundings, and the people around me. And I couldn’t go to Africa without acknowledging these 2 major learnings:
- My family proves again and again how amazing they are. The Advance article (http://www.silive.com/sports/advance/gordon/index.ssf/2010/09/ryan_bennett_will_run_155_mile.html) focused so much on my mom and her story but the glue behind my family is my Dad. I couldn’t even imagine what life would be like without him around and am so proud to have him as a best friend as I get older. And I must say, he really does have a fine taste in women. My Dad’s wife Coleen is cut from the same cloth: caring, honest, compassionate and loving. It is so hard for a man to find one truly amazing woman in his life and my dad was able to find two… what a playboy! My bro and sis, Drew and Courtney are bad-asses in their own sense and always keep me in check. Talking about guts, my brother is moving to Germany while I’m in Cairo and my sister left the nest years ago to start a new life in the City of Angels. Along with Col came three step-siblings (plus Emily!) who are all so supportive of my ridiculous endeavors.
And when I say family, I mean not only my immediate family but all of my extended family and every awesome friend I have. From picking me up and dropping me at the beach to make sure I get a sand run in, to becoming “actors” in a promotional video and filming and editing the whole video for free, to telling me they have a “bone to pick with me” to get me into another room to slip me a few bucks to help offset the costs of the trip, I am reminded everyday how lucky I am to have the people I have around me. I could write a 3 page post on every kind thing someone has done for me over the past few months and it wouldn’t even come close to listing half of the things that people have reached out and helped with.
2. Lesson number 2 has less to do with close friends but still deals with the power of people. The lesson I learned is this: “People will go out of their way to help you if they know you are passionate about something.” I have been overwhelmed with the amount of support I have received not only from close friends but from people I lost touch with years ago. I recently received an email from Sloan-Kettering showing a new donation that a high school classmate of mine had sent… I have not seen or spoken to this person since we graduated and they just donated to the cause. I graduated high school 10 years ago. To some this may not seem like a big deal but I find it amazing that 10 years after last speaking with someone, they will still show their support.
It’s stories like these that make me feel honored to know such amazing people. And it also makes me realize that if I completely bomb in the desert, this journey was still worth it.