Paper written for school project (Riley Blankenship, CC4C Child Alumni)

Paper written for school project (Riley Blankenship, CC4C Child Alumni)

Some people believe that running marathons and chronic illness are not connected. I mean, at first, when you begin to look at the similarities between the two, they aren’t very apparent. But as soon as you dig a little deeper and understand the challenges one might face, the picture becomes a little less blurry. In reality having a chronic illness is a marathon, it’s a long haul, and you have to learn to pace yourself so you can reach the finish line.

 

My journey began six years ago when I was diagnosed with an eosinophilic/mitochondrial disorder that left me bedridden for at least 3 years. From what I remember about that time in my life was awful, the stress and hopelessness of the situation started to wreak havoc on my family and I felt like it was never going to end. Even though marathon runners and athletes must train and prepare for something they WANT to accomplish, they get tired and might even feel like giving up. So just imagine how someone fighting a chronic illness feels when they are asked to “train” and win something they did NOT WANT and were never prepared for in the first place. I have had many people ask me “how did i get through it” and to be honest, I have no idea. But the one thing I can truly think of, besides my family, that helped me reach the finish line had to be CC4C.

 

Cheyanna’s Champions for Children is an amazing organization started by our close family friend, Talaya Frazier, after her daughter battled a rare illness. This foundation pairs children with undiagnosed and rare conditions to professional athletes and high school teams around Austin. The whole goal of this organization is to have the child and athlete essentially “Inspire and be inspired” by one another.

 

When the foundation was first started I was still battling my illness and was in a very dark place, and I felt as if no one understood my challenges. Thankfully, I was paired with Desiree Ficker, an American long distance runner and professional triathlete, and yes she is even more amazing in person than she sounds here. After I met her, my perspective on my illness changed because I was able to look at her courage and strength when it came to preparing for a triathlon and understand that if I were to stop fighting now I would never reach the finish line. Being diagnosed with my illness was not the biggest hurdle I had to jump over, it was the struggle of never knowing where my race would end. I didn’t know if I was competing in a 5k, a 10k or maybe even an iron man, but when I got to talk to Desiree and listen to how she finished that last excruciating mile, I could finally see the light and the end of the tunnel, and that picture I was talking about earlier, was beginning to reveal colors I had never seen before. So, what I guess I am trying to say is follow your connections, because you never know when life will throw a curve ball in your master plan and you will need something or someone to pick you up off of the ground.