Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Race Reflection: Olivia Engel

My race with Olivia was an emotional day.  The race director of the Great Pumpkin Classic knew that I was planning to be there that day and knew of my efforts to run for those we lost in Sandy Hook.  So, with that in mind, he kindly made an announcement at the start of the race that I was there and explained to people what my effort was.  People starting clapping and whistling and it was very overwhelming.  People near me began to approach, pat me on the back, hug me and congratulate me on my efforts.  My son was with me that day, "running" along my side in the jogging stroller.  Just before the race began, he asked me, "Momma, why is everyone hugging you?"  And luckily, I didn't have to answer because the horn went off and the race began and he was captivated by all the activity that had started up around him.  I was thankful for the distraction, because I didn't trust my voice to hold steady after the show of support from perfect strangers.

Perfect strangers.  That's a term that I have found the true meaning to in all of this.  Throughout this project I have met the most amazing people.  Selfless, giving past the point of reason, honorable, compassionate.  They are perfect.  In every sense of the word.  I think that I could have easily gone through life bitter and sad and angry about what happened at Sandy Hook.  I could have allowed it to take away a part of my typically positive outlook on life.  Allowing the bad to take away your good is the scary part of fight back against tragedy.  Allowing the bad to take that away would have redefined me as a person.  Who I am as a mother to my son.  As a wife.  A daughter.  A sister.  But on days like Olivia's day, these Perfect Strangers forced me to remember that we should always do what we can to lift each other up.  To support each other when there is good to be done.  That the good people in this world will always out weigh the bad.  And those good people will reveal themselves to you when you really need it.  They will find a way to pull you back and remind you why the good is worth fighting for. 

Can I ask a favor please?  If you are doing random acts of kindness this month, or any month, make one of those acts the simple task of saying something uplifting and unexpected to a complete stranger.  A word of encouragement.  A small amount of praise.  Something to let a Perfect Stranger know that you noticed them and that they matter.  Because on Olivia's race day, there were people that gave that to me.  And I will forever associate Perfect Strangers with Olivia and the impact that kind words can have when they come from someone you have never met before.


Here is Olivia.  My original perfect stranger and my 21st angel.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

FINAL Race Announcement: Josephine Gay

On Thanksgiving day, I will be running the Turkey Trot for Josephine Gay.  This will be my final race for this project before switching over to the Running for Angels Project.  I would love to see you all out there that day as I wrap up this journey that has been going on for just shy of one year.  Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  Enjoy the blessings around you on that day and remember those who are missing someone at their table this year.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Race Reflection: Anne Marie Murphy

Back in early October, I ran the MarcUS for Change race out of Stamford for Anne Marie.  It was another one of those races that just seemed to fit.  The races name, MarcUS for Change, embodied so many of the hopes that we have for this world, post December 14th.  The race itself was for a young man that had passed away before his time.  The races proceeds were headed off to help the Stamford Education system which I'm sure Anne would have approved of.  Add to it that a good friend of mine, along with her beautiful daughter, decided to run it by my side, made the day even nicer.

There are some races where people approach me directly when they read my shirt and they reach out to say a kind word based on the name that I am wearing.  There are other races where people shy away, unwilling to approach for one reason or another but I can hear them speak about the person I am running for as they pass along behind me.  My race for Anne Marie went that way.  Maybe it was because I was surrounded by a large group of teachers so they especially would be tuned into the name I bore on my back. But all I could hear behind me the whole day was, "That's Annie Marie Murphy from Sandy Hook.  She died trying to save the children."

I must have heard that whispered behind me a dozens times, if not more, that day.

It filled me with so much joy to listen as people read my shirt and remembered.  And what an honorable way to be remembered- leaving this world in an attempt to save the lives of children.  Again, it solidified the purpose of this project for me.  I was so happy to hear people remembering the adults for the heroes that they are.

When children are taken from us too soon, it's an easy thing to remember.  Their names, their images are burned into our brains because the injustice is just far too great to comprehend.  I always worried about the adults.  I never wanted their memories to get lost in the shuffle.  That race that day, helped me to understand that big or small, not one of the 26 are forgotten.  We feel their loss equally and all of their names are forever etched onto our hearts.

There was a lot of joy the day of that run.  I have a suggestion.  If you've never taken a run along side a 5 year old child before...try it.  It's more fun then I could ever hope to explain and it transports you back to your childhood, playing along side your friends.  In Anne's name, we ran, we giggled, we played and we crossed the finish line, piggy back style, as a team.  We smiled for her and I hope she was smiling down on us.


Here is Anne Marie Murphy.  The 20th angel I have now run for.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Race Announcement: Rachel Davino

This Saturday I will run for Rachel Davino at the Hot Coco 5k in Cheshire which benefits the Abilities without Boundries Foundation.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


With my 26 races coming to an end (two left to go), I began to think about what the next phase of this project could be. I didn't want to finish the 26 races and then have it be over. So this is what I've come up with.....


My friends and I have designed a new tshirt and it has been loaded into Cafepress for you to order (
http://www.cafepress.com/runningforangelsproject). What I am asking is for people to purchase the tshirt, pick ONE race (only one NOT 26 unless you're some kind of maniac) and run/walk that race wearing the tshirt that honors all 26 loved ones that we lost on December 14th.

I'm calling it the "Running for Angels" Project.

On the day of your race, I ask that you take a picture of yourself in the shirt and then email it to RunningForAngelsProject@gmail.com where I will take it and then upload it to my blog site and facebook page. (Once I am done with my 26 races, I will be updating the name of my blog and this facebook page to reflect the new project)

The goal is to get as many people as possible from across the country to wear this shirt in a race so that the people running around them see the names and remember those we lost.

All proceeds from the purchase of the tshirts will go directly to "My Sandy Hook Family Fund" which is a fund endorsed by the families directly impacted by the events of December 14th.

You don't need to be fast. You don't need to be experienced. I don't care if you participate in a 1k or a marathon, I just want you to try. And I promise you this....it will make your heart feel good.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Race Announcement: Noah Pozner

On November 9th, I will be running the Pilgrim Road Race in Middlebury, CT for Noah.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Race Reflection: Benjamin Wheeler

I'm reflecting back on my run for Ben today.  Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind when I think back on that day is the fact that it was, hands down, the hardest race of my life.  You name it, it happened.  Rain, hail, thunder, lightening.  And best of all...the race was entirely up hill.  No really.  Entirely up hill. 

I was writing this race reflection in my mind the entire time that I was running.  I felt like I was having a dialog with Ben the whole time I was out there.  Reacting and jumping to every clap of thunder.  Wiping away the rain from my eyes.  Shielding myself from the hail.  "This sucks, Ben."  I was saying in my head.  "I can't believe they didn't call this race off.  This isn't even close to safe."  A car drove past me on one stretch, splashing me from a puddle as they went.  I felt the curse words rise in my throat when suddenly they were replaced with laughter.  I shook my head, laughed out loud, and spoke to Ben again.  "You better appreciate this birthday present buddy!"

I ran for Ben on his birthday.  Stars aligned and some how, I was able to find a road race on his birthday, which fell on a Thursday.  In what universe does someone plan a road race mid week?  It never happens.  And the fact that there was one for me to run, makes me believe that I had a little extra help, yet again. 

I almost gave up that day.  I almost didn't run.  No one would have blamed me for rescheduling- that night was a bear.  But then I thought, "I bet the Wheelers have days where they would just love to give up.  I bet they have days where they don't feel like they can fight another battle."  But they do.  The Wheelers have dedicated their lives to making Ben's story impact the world.  To working towards a world where parents never have to say goodbye to their children ever again for a reason like this.  Have you ever heard them speak?  They are incredible.  They are so moving and so strong that you just know that they are driven by something incredibly powerful.  And you don't doubt for a second that Ben sits behind them, encouraging and pushing them to fight another day.  Helping them to right this wrong in whatever way is possible.

Every clap of thunder and each bolt of lightening that night felt like a battle cry.  It felt like a deep roar of victory.  A reminder that there is a movement happening right now that will make this world a better place.  A safer place for our children. And it pushed me on to battle for one more step up that mountain.

People like the Wheelers are leading a charge and I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to them for the strength and resilience that they show us all every single day.  Thinking about what they battle every day....well.  That makes a silly little hill in the rain look pitiful.  And I'm in awe of them and their fighting spirit.

Ben.  You have incredible parents that will continue to fight for you every day for the rest of their lives.  You are being honored by them and your community will stand shoulder to shoulder with them every step of the way as they persevere.   Thank you for holding my hand that day and running along my side.  I never would have made it had you not laughed along with me as I ran. 

P.S- I had a brownie in your honor that night when I got home.  Your dad told me that they are your favorite.  XOXO


Here is Benjamin Wheeler.  The 19th angel I have now run for.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Race Announcement: Dylan Hockley and James Mattioli

On Saturday October 26th, I will be running the Milford Trick or Trot for Dylan Hockley and on Sunday October 27th, I will be running the Brookfield Halloween 5k.

Busy weekend celebrating Halloween in two handsome boys honor.  Come out and run in the beautiful fall weather if you can make it!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Race Reflection: Jessica Rekos

Jessica hit the closest to home.  Jessica is the little girl that made me crash to the floor on December 14th and with panicked thoughts think, "This is real.  And this could have happened to any one of us."  While the knowledge of each and every life lost that day would slam into my chest  like a battering ram and devastate me beyond comprehension, it was Jessica that would make the whole situation drive home.

Jessica's parents graduated two years ahead of me from Newtown High School.  We were not friends, but I knew of them.  I have close friends that are close friends of theirs- some of which ran along side me on the day of Jessica's race.  And for whatever reason...having that distant connection to them and knowing that there are two people, two parents, so close to my own age that are dealing with something this incomprehensible......I still can't wrap my brain around it.

We are still in that age where bad things don't happen, we feel invincible for the most part.  We live in a place where children aren't ripped from our arms.  These things should not EVER happen.  As a parent, you dream up every way to keep your child safe.  Lock the doors.  Buy a big dog. Teach them not to talk to strangers.  Keeping them home from school never crosses your mind.  Not here.

You may think you understand it, but you don't truly know it until you have a baby, that the phrase, "your heart walking around on the outside of your body," is so true it's impossible to put adequately into words.  They are your heart, your soul, your reason for breathing.  You would do anything to protect them.  And you worry every second of every day that you'll look away for half a second and they'll touch that hot pan, do a nose dive into the coffee table, or fall off the swings.  You want nothing more than to put them in a bubble and protect them from everything that could possible touch them.  The mere thought of something harming your child sends your gut twisting and an ache takes over your whole body.  You worry about school, but for the traditional reasons.  A bully, not keeping up with the classroom milestones, falling on the playground.  We can't live in a world where we have to add the unthinkable to that list of concerns.  We, as parents, have enough to worry about.  If there is something that we can do to make the world a little bit safer, a little less scary, we need to do it.

10 months later and nothing has been done. And I can give you 26 damn good reasons why that's not good enough.

Here is the beautiful Miss Jessica Rekos.  She is the 18th angel I have now run for:

Race Announcement: Olivia Engel

Take two for Olivia!  I will be running the Great Pumpkin Classic in Trumbull, CT for Olivia this coming Sunday, October 20th.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Race Announcement: Double Header Weekend_Anne Marie Murphy and Olivia Engel

On Saturday, October 5th, I will be running the MarcUS for Change Race out of Stamford, CT which benefits the Stamford Public Education Foundation in honor of Anne Marie Murphy.

On Sunday, October 6th, I will be running the Coastal Light House Run out of Bridgeport for the beautiful Miss Olivia Engel.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Race Reflection: Grace McDonnell

There has never been a more perfect run ever logged on the books then the run that I ran for Grace McDonnell. Not in the history of running has there been better weather conditions, better scenery, a better sense of well being and ease.  Even the music that streamed through my ipod was perfect that day.

I picked the "Run the Route for Youth Race" specifically for Grace because it was to be held on the beautiful Silver Sands beach in Milford, CT.  Every picture that I have seen of Grace, she's always on the beach. Smiling and happy.  Blending in with the scenery like she was born to run through waves.  When I saw this race, she was the first person that came to mind.

The day was overcast and cool.  But to a runner, that's a recipe for a great run.  Zero humidity and no sun beating down over head.  And from the moment I arrived at the race location, there was an undeniable calmness that washed over me, which isn't usually the case.  I get jitters when I race.  Mostly because I'm afraid of not doing my absolute best for those that I am trying to honor.  The further I get into this project, the more responsibility I feel to do right by them.  The more people stop me to say that they recognize me from my blog or facebook posts.  So I start to feel like I have eyes on me, mostly to cheer me on.  But the eyes hold me to stand true to my word that I will do my best to honor each and every person as best as I can. So I worry that I will trip on my shoe laces, or that I will pass out in the heat.  Not finishing a race is not ever an option.

But, like I said.  There was an undeniable calm that day.  I have never in all my life, felt so incredibly at peace during a run.  Running is stressful on your joints, your chest constricts, your throat gets dry, your stomach cramps.  But there was none of that that day.  I felt like I was running on pillows.  I fell into a pace that was above average for me normally and I did it with comfort and ease.  I usually run with a preset playlist on my iPod, but my battery was drained so I had to run with Pandora on my iPhone and wouldn't you know it, but every song that played was exactly what I needed.

The day was perfect.  And I'm going to let myself believe that Grace gave me that.  As if she slipped right into my head and said, "Hey.  Let's just enjoy a beach day together, yeah?"  And we did just that.  A day at the beach with Grace.  Perfect.

Here is Grace McDonnell.  The 17th angel I have no run for:

Race Reflection: Caroline Previdi

Often times I sit down to write these race reflections and I have no idea what I'm going to write about. How many times and in how many different ways can you express how hard it is to write about something that never should have happened? About a person that was pulled from this Earth too soon? How many ways can you say, "I'm sad"? It's crazy to think that we are mere months away from the one year anniversary of December 14th. Life is going on all over the world but in Newtown, there isn't a day that goes by where we don't remember. There are constant subtle reminders around town with everything from car magnets saying "Sandy Hook Strong", to green ribbons on trees. So while everyone else in the world takes on another day safely tucked away from the reminders, we are here. Living it every day. Wondering when the pain will pass. While not wanting it to pass away at all, because if the pain passes, does the memory?

Some days I stop and it hits me.....this really happened. And it doesn't feel possible. The pain we feel when we focus on the loss is the only thing that convinces you that something this terrible actually happened in the town that you grew up in. And that pain brings you a tiny connection to those that are no longer here. In a town that felt like time stood still. Where nothing bad could ever happen. Because nothing ever did. Find a Newtown resident. Someone that experienced Newtown as a child. They'll tell you that Newtown was a bubble. We were a universe unto ourselves. If you told someone where you were from back in the day, they wouldn't know where you were from until you explained that it was right next to Danbury or Fairfield. We liked our bubble. You could go a few towns over for excitement and then come home to the safety and security of all that is Newtown. Now we are on the map. And for all the wrong reasons.

 I was on vacation a few months ago. And when you are on vacation, you always end up making friends with other people on vacation- at a restaurant, the beach, whatever. Everyone is happy and talkative because it's vacation. The inevitable question comes up. "So, where are you folks from?"  Deep breath. Head high. Chest out. "Newtown." And they make that face. You know that they know. So you don't let them hang in that awkward place.  We've made it our job to be the front line of defense for our town.  To show the world we will do our part to make the world better on the backs of our experience.  So in response, we put on that brave face and we sing the praises of the all the reasons to love Newtown and we talk about how proud we are to be from a place that has rallied so hard behind families that have lost more than anyone should.

Caroline and I ran together back on July 21st.  I picked a race for her that was being put on in honor of a young man that, by everything that I read, had a zest for life and loved to dance.  From what I read of Caroline, she had that same passion.  When I began to get tired, I called on Caroline to help me "dance" through it.  I thought of how children never get winded, never lose speed, and I tried to channel that energy into my own legs.  It always helps me to visualize the person I am running for that day and that race was no different.  The tightness in my chest lifts immediately when I thought of Caroline.  My legs had enough left to speed me through to the finish line.  And when I crossed over the line, the announcer of the race called out, "Crossing the finish line now is Lindsay K.  Running in honor of Caroline Previdi from Sandy Hook.  Great job, Lindsay!" I don't know how he got my information or how he knew, but he helped make Caroline feel ever more present with me over the line.  Like she was holding my hand over the line.  I live for the moments like that through all of this.  To have at least one moment in the race that I can feel, without a shadow of a doubt, that the person I am running for that day is with me.  No questions asked. And it heals my heart a bit.

I have this visual.  I picture my heart and it's fractured into 26 different, jagged pieces.  And every time I cross a finish line, one piece slides back into place.  A little rougher for the wear, but back in place none the less. I'm curious to see what my heart looks like after 10 more finish line crosses.  Hopefully I find that it's whole again.

Thank you for being with me that day Caroline.  Forever in our hearts.

Here is Caroline Previdi.  The 16th angel I have now run for:

Friday, September 6, 2013

Race Announcement: Ben Wheeler

Sometimes, things come together so nicely that you can't help but wonder who's pulling strings. On Thursday(when is there ever a race on a Thursday night?), September 12th, I will be running for the amazing Ben Wheeler at the King of the Hill 5k in Danbury, CT. September 12th. Ben's birthday. And I'll have a cupcake for him at the finish line.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Race Announcement: Jessica Rekos

On Saturday August 31st, I will be running along side some close friends of the Rekos family in honor of the beautiful Miss Jessica Rekos at the Newtown 5k Road Race in the strongest town I know, Newtown, CT.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Race Announcement: Grace McDonnell

On August 18th, I will be running for Grace McDonnell at the "Run the Route for Youth" race in Milford, CT.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Race Announcement: Caroline Previdi

On Sunday, July 21st, I will be running Shaneanigans 5k in Woodbury, CT in honor of Caroline Previdi. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Please excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.

Disclosure.  Absolutely none of this post is meant to brag.  Only to recognize the unbelievably kind and generous acts of others.  I hope it comes off the way that I intend.

First off, what you have to understand is that when I started 26 in 2013 for Sandy Hook, I honestly thought this would be the outcome:
  1. I would announce the project on facebook.
  2. A bunch of my friends would say, "WooHoo!  That's fantastic! Good for you!"
  3. A few close friends and family would donate.
  4. I would run a ton of races.
  5. I would finish running a ton of races.
  6. I would raise a few hundred dollars for the Sandy Hook Support Fund.
And that would be the end of it.  Of course, the primary goal of this project was always to show to the families that were affected on December 14th, in some tangible way, that people are out there fighting for their children and their memory.  So that the need for real change stays in the forefront of every one's mind.  But when I first launched this, I thought that family involvement and knowledge of my project was a long shot.  I thought, at the very least I will be doing something to help, rather than just being so sad about it every day.

But it's become something that I could never have dreamed. 

After my experience meeting some of the families, I really felt like this whole project had come full circle.  It solidified to me that I had achieved the loftiest hopes and dreams that I had for this project.  It felt so good.  I don't know how else to say it.

But something I never in a million year thought could happen would be people writing to me and calling me an inspiration.  It never crossed my mind that people could think that.  When my inspiration comes from the strength of the families that are doing so much in the wake of something so difficult to bear.  My efforts seem so small.  So it never ceases to surprise me when I get encouraging and loving emails from perfect strangers or new friends met along the way with messages of support and encouragement.

With that, I need to take a moment to recognize my friend Sally Leety.  She is a new friend that I made at my race for First Responders up in NH back in April.  Sally is a former resident of Newtown and has ties to our town to this day.  She is now a teacher up in NH and she did an amazing thing for me and for the memory of those that we lost and I feel compelled to share.  It's so reassuring to see the selflessness of others at times like this and Sally went above and beyond.  Allow me to share an excerpt from an email that she sent to her students and parents at the end of her school year:

"Back in April, I "introduced" Lindsay Knauf to my students as my new civic
hero.  Lindsay is a life-long resident of Newtown, CT, my hometown, and
still lives there today, raising her young family.  After the tragic events
of December 14th, she was looking for some way to help her beloved hometown.
Lindsay is a runner, so she has decided to run 26 races in 2013 (hence the
name), each race dedicated to one of the victims of 12/14.  I accidentally
met Lindsay at a road race in Greenland, NH, the Chief Maloney Unity Run &
Walk, where she was running in her "27th" race, in honor of Newtown's first
responders.  When I heard her name and where she was from announced at the
finish line, I track her down and introduced myself.  She is truly a
remarkable young woman!

If you would like to "meet" Lindsay, Channel 8 in CT did a piece on her a
couple of weeks ago, and you can watch it at

If you would like to read Lindsay's blog, where she reflects on each race
and those she is honoring, visit

And finally, if you would like to help Lindsay get closer to her goal of
raising $26,000 in 2013, you may donate by visiting

Thank you all for a wonderful year.  I hope you are all able to enjoy each
and every day of your summer!

Best regards,

~Ms. Leety"

Due to her note and the tremendous respect her students have for her as a teacher, Sally's students have responded and donated to my cause.  To see these kids take time out and do something like this, warms my heart.  They could have read Sally's note, said, "Aww, isn't that nice."  And left it at that.  But because they love their teacher so much and because Sally took the time to spread the word, more people know about what happened that day and how hard our community was impacted.

Also, never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that someone would call me a "Civic Hero".  I feel unworthy of such a title.  But I am beyond honored that Sally would think so.

Thank you so much Sally.  You have given me so much more than just a few more dollars towards my goal.  You gave me a title I never even dared to dream I would hold.  And the knowledge that people will always care about what happened in our beautiful town.

Basically, what I want to say to anyone out there reading this is that I am so incredibly proud and thrilled if this project is helping you in some small way to heal.  I never imagined it would go that far.  And it will be one of my most proudest achievements for the rest of my life.  You are all helping me in untold ways.  I thank you all for that.

I said it to my friend Linda the other day, and I'll repeat it to you all now.  I hope I never falter, I hope I never let you down.  This is too important to me.

And with that, I will close out. 

Good Night Neverland!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Race Reflection: Avielle Richman

I have a process.  I have a routine with all my races for this project.  I have a very professional spreadsheet where all 26 loved ones are listed with columns along the side listing the race that I want to run for that particular person. Notes on who I need to contact when I schedule that particular race.  Details of the race day that I need to know.  And about a week out from each race, I try to announce the race that I am running and who I will be running it for on my blog and facebook page so that the people that like to meet me at my races know where I'll be. 

It's all very organized and very unlike me typically.

This past weekend, was my race in Fairfield and I have known about that particular race for a few months now.  I had a person picked out to run that race for.  I had it all marked down on my spread sheet.  But I never announced the race or the person that I was going to run for that day.  I have no idea why I skipped that part of my process.  I just did. 

The night before my race, I was in my bedroom putting all my gear together for the next morning.  I pulled out the shirt that I was planning to wear the next day and for no reason in particular I sat there and thought, "I need to save this one for another day.  This isn't the person that I need to run for tomorrow.  I'm going to run for Avielle tomorrow."  Honestly.  I swear it was as simple as that. 

When I arrived at the race on Saturday, my friend Beth asked me why I had chosen Avielle for that day.  I remember feeling guilty when I told her, "I honestly didn't have a reason this time.  I just did."  Beth knows that I try very hard to match up the people that I run for to a certain race if I can.  (For example, I ran the Sham Rock and Roll for Ana because of her families love and involvement in music.)  I felt bad that I didn't have a reason.  It was such a last minute change and it almost felt like a disservice to Avielle. 

Little did I know.

So, the race was over and I was cranky because the water table was farther away from the finish line than I would have liked it to be.  (I can be a big baby sometimes)  I found my water and I was cooling down a good distance away from the race crowd.  I looked to my left and I saw a few people taking photo's near by me.  I recognized them immediately.  It was the Wheeler family who had lost Benjamin on December 14th.  I hold a very deep respect for the Wheelers because of everything that they have done in the wake of December 14th.  They are incredibly well spoken and brilliant advocates for change and we are lucky to have them as a mouth piece for our town.  At first, I hesitated.  I didn't want to bother them during their family time or in that moment, but I felt compelled to approach them.  They were amazingly sweet and kind to me as we chatted and I was so happy that I was able to meet them and tell them in person how extraordinary I think they are.  I told them briefly about my project and that I would love to be in contact with them if they had another race that they were planning on running so that I could run for their Ben on that day.  It was at that moment that Mrs. Wheeler looked down at my shirt and saw that I was running for Avielle.  "Oh!"  She said.  "You're running for Avi!  Look!"  And she turned around to show me that she had a picture of Ben and Avielle on the back of her shirt.  It was then that Mr. Wheeler turned back to me and said, "Avielle's parents are here today.  Would you like to meet them?" 

I was in shock.  Here is the reason I made the last minute change without knowing why.  Avielle was pulling some strings that day.

Mr. Wheeler got in touch with the Richman's and before I knew it, I was face to face with the family that I was trying to honor that day.  I can't explain this feeling well enough.  All I have ever wanted from this project was to show the families that we will never forget their children.  That people are always thinking of them.  That we will do everything we can to help and to make this world a more caring place.  Being in that moment with these amazing people is something that I will never forget.

The very first thing Mrs. Richman said to me was, "Can I please give you a hug?"  And all I could say back was, "Are you kidding?  Can I please hug you???"  This is sort of a dream come true for me.  One of the reasons that I started this project was because I felt so helpless.  I often said that I wish I could just hug these people.  Be there for them in some way.  And here I am, hugging a mother that was forced to say goodbye too soon.  I wish I could have hugged her forever without being a complete creeper. 

I quickly told the Richman's about how I was supposed to run for someone else that day and my abrupt change of plans that I didn't quite understand.  "Avielle was helping us out today I think," Mrs. Richman said with a smile. 

Mr.  Richman pulled a pin off his shirt and put it in my hand.  It was a pin for the foundation that he and Mrs. Richman have constructed in Avielle's honor.  Mr. and Mrs. Richman are both scientists and they are now devoting their time to preventing violence by studying brain health and expanding education on mental illness.  And you'd be hard pressed to find two more sweet and amazing people in this world.  Please take a moment to visit their website to learn more about the incredible work that they are doing:

Dear Avielle, thank you for connecting me with your amazing parents.  It was an experience I will never forget and I hope that I helped a small corner of the heart find its way to healing by running in your honor.  We all miss you every day.  We will all carry you with us for the rest of our lives. 


Here is the string puller herself, the gorgeous Avielle Richman with a smile that goes on for days.  The 15th angel I have now run for.

Full race album available at the facebook page 26 in 2013 for Sandy Hook:

An experience I will never forget.  Me and the Richman's on race day.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Let me tell you about where I am from.

Lately, I've seen a lot of commentary about how people from Newtown dread getting the question, "where are you from?" when they are out and about.  They don't want to see the sorrow in that person's eyes when they hear the answer.  They don't want to see the pity.

Go ahead and ask me where I am from.  I am more than happy to tell you.  Allow me a few minutes of your time to bend your ear about what it means to be from Newtown.  How proud I am to be a lifelong member of a community that banded together under the worst possible circumstances to take care of their own.  That have worked tirelessly to ensure that the people we loved most are never forgotten.  Give me ten minutes of your time to explain how special this community is.  How we are going to be the driving force behind nationwide change.  Because this community has too much spirit to ever give up a fight that will ensure that a tragedy like this will never be again repeated.  Not on our watch.  Not if we have anything to say about it.

Six months have gone by.  Do you think there is one person in this town that doesn't stop what they are doing for a few minutes each day to remember?  We remember.  Every day.  And remembering makes us strong.  Remembering says to the world that we are better than the atrocious acts of one coward.  That one coward will never define us.  We will be defined by our actions after the unthinkable.  By our ability to push through the darkness and find the light again. 

With that said, allow me a moment to show you where I am from.  Let me show you what you are missing out on by not being a part of our community.  Don't pity us, believe in us.  Every one should be as fortunate as we are.  To live side by side the people of this amazing community is a privilege.  It is an absolute honor. 

We Are Newtown.