I don’t think there’s a person out there that hasn’t been affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy in some way.  Each of these mass shootings are tragic in their own right, but when you involve innocent children, it takes on a whole new meaning or lack there of.

It’s in the wake of such tragedies that you yearn for a way to reach out and help the survivors.  But, what’s the right thing to do?  There’s no protocol for such a thing.  Being that Sandy Hook is a town right here in Connecticut, we felt compelled to do something, but what?

Mark wanted to visit the memorials setup in Sandy Hook.   He felt he needed to do something and this was probably it.  I, on the other hand, thought it might be intrusive.  I’m not taking anything away from the many folks who visited to offer their support and find solace, we each grieve differently.  I think we were all trying to figure out how to best support the families.  Being that there was a constant media presence and so many people flooding the town, I kind of felt like they might need a little space.  Needless to say, he didn’t push the issue and we didn’t go.

Fast forward 3 months to the Sandy Hook run for the Families.  I had no idea this was taking place.  As I lay in my bed early last Tuesday morning in the midst of some kind of funk, I wondered how did I get here and when will it pass?  I had no energy and no ambition for days.  What was wrong with me?  I decide to check my emails and found the inspiration I needed.

As Fitfluential ambassadors, we are sent opportunities to participate in sponsored events.  Reebok is a proud sponsor of the Sandy Hook run for the Families and as such, was offering to sponsor race participants.  Here is my opportunity to give to the community.  How awesome is that?  My mood quickly changed.  I have so much to be thankful for.

I promptly fill out the application form and hope to be chosen.  I figure if I’m not, I’ll still enter on my own.  I tell Mark and he’s in agreement, he really wants to participate.  Oh no, turns out they had reached their maximum of 15,000 and entry was closed.  Ah, but there’s another email, we were chosen and because Ava is unavailable, they enter Mark as well.  I feel so grateful!

It’s race day!  We arrive in Hartford early Saturday morning with a swell of people, every one of them excited to be there.  I’m amazed that even with this volume of people, we manage to run into friends.  We get in line for our race bibs.  On any other day, this line would be 3 hours long, but not today.  The race organizers are overwhelmed, but they have it down.  It’s so cold outside.  It’s 30 degrees, but it feels like 20 with no sun in sight.  Spirits are high though, there’s no complaining here, just smiles.  We’re behind a large group dressed as super hero’s.  They’re all running to support Rachel, a teacher whose life was lost.  How amazing!

We make our way to the starting line.  The anticipation is palpable.  A priest addresses the crowd and in an instant, a beautiful moment of silence followed by the ringing of a bell for each life lost.  What a great way to start the race.

And, we’re off.  Running is definitely not our forte.  There are people passing us and vice versa.  This continues throughout the race.  There are children, parents with strollers, elderly, avid runners and those of us that fall somewhere in between, but we’re all kept going by the moving sea of people.  Somewhere around the 2.5 mile mark when you know you’re near the finish line, but still feeling like slowing down a bit, the coolest thing happened.  A core of military runners approach.  They’re chanting left, right, left, right and an homage to Sandy Hook.  I swear it sent chills through our body.  The core stays tight while making their way through the crowd at just the right pace.  Slightly faster than everyone else, but slow enough to allow the other runners to marvel at the sight.  It was by far the most moving moment of the day.  Any “end of the run” hesitation was gone. How could you not find that inspirational?

With the race complete, we head to the sidelines to cheer on other runners.  What a great feeling.

This event did an outstanding job honoring the lives of those that are lost and celebrating the gift of life with all its possibilities.  The United Way raised over $400,000.00 to benefit the long term needs of the Sandy Hook community.

I’d like to thank Reebok for providing us and countless other people an outlet to show their support.  It’s a day I will forever cherish.