Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Race Reflections: Mary Sherlach

On Mother's Day I ran the "Run Like a Mother" 5k for the incredibly brave Mary Sherlach.  A very sweet benefactor approached me about the race and offered to pay my admittance fee and while I was so grateful for the help in funding my cause, I was even more thankful that this person brought this particular race to my attention.  What better race could I find to honor Mary Sherlach then a race entitled "Run Like a Mother"? 

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the story, on December 14th, when the first shots rang out in the hallways of Sandy Hook elementary school, Mary Sherlach, ran towards the noise.  She did not cower.  She did not hide.  She ran at a derranged gun man with nothing but her bare hands.  Sit here and really take that in.  How easy would it have been for her to duck for cover.  To barracade herself in a closet or office?  What would you have done in that same situation? 

Mary Sherlach was a mother.  But she wasn't just a mother to her own beautiful children.  When she stepped foot into Sandy Hook elementary school, she was a mother to each and every child that took their education from under that roof each and every day.  And like any mother would for their own child if they were in danger, Mary Sherlach ran directly into the line of fire to put herself between those children and the madman who meant to harm them. 

Don't mess with a momma bear.  We will tear you apart and think nothing of it if you try to hurt our cubs.

I am in awe of Mary.  The selflessness.  The instinct to protect.  The complete disregard for her own safety over the well fair of the children that were intrusted in her care.  And while she was not able to overcome the gun man who was ladden with ammunition, she saved countless lives by stalling him, even if just for a few precious moments.  She distracted him long enough for the other teachers in the building to have a warning that something was terribly wrong.  We will never know how many lives she saved that day.  And I am in awe of her strength and her courage.

On Mothers Day, I ran for Mary.  I ran for the woman who ran like a mother to save the most precious people my town has to offer.  She is one of the bravest women that I will never get to meet.  And she will forever be a local hero. 

Mary, your sacrifice will be one of legend for all of time.  Our community will speak your name in reverence and thank you every night in our prayers for all that you did that sad, sad day.  You are a true hero.  May we all show that kind of courage to face evil if ever confronted with it.


Here is Mary Sherlach.  The 11th angel that I have now run for:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Race Reflections: Jack Pinto

On May 5th, I ran for Jack.  I owe him this write up and I've been putting it off.  I've been a bit emotionally burnt out these past few weeks and under no circumstances would I want to dishonor Jack, or anyone's, memory by writing something with my heart only half way in it.  I've been running a lot.  I've been reading too much.  I've been too close to the sadness.  So, I apologize for being late.  But I'm back to feeling the need to put down thoughts on paper.....or to blog as it were.

Jack.  Jack, Jack, Jack.  Out of all the loved one's lost, this one hit the closest to home.  Jack Pinto and his family were close family friends of my cousin's family.  And my cousin's stayed closely by the Pinto's side during some of the worst times of their lives.  But because of that, I feel just a little bit more connected to their sadness.  To their loss.  It makes me look at Jack's picture and see my own son's face reflecting back at me.  It made it all that more personal and real. 

Jack has this face that I can't help but look at and see what kind of a person he was.  It's almost as if his eyes and his smile tell you everything you need to know.  I look at him and can visualize what kind of person he was going to be.  He looks like the kind of kid that was going to grow up and be captain of every sports team he tried out for.  Ace every test.  Prom king.  Date the head cheerleader kind of a guy.  The kind of guy that everyone wanted to be close to.  Because he looks like the kind of kid I would have loved my son to look up to. 

It's not too far fetched to imagine that there could have been a day where I would have brought my son to the town play ground to let him burn off some energy.  And Jack could have been there.  My son gravitates to older boys and Jack would have been someone that he would have bee-lined for.  He would have instantly recognized that Jack was ruling to playground with a baseball or a football.  Two sports that my son loves as well.  And Jack would have tried to involve a much younger child into the game as best as possible.  My son and I would have left that afternoon, and I would have smiled at the thought of the sweet older boy that took the time to be so kind to my baby.  I would have left thinking that I hope my son grows up to treat younger children as well as that boy on the playground treated him that day. We would have gone our separate ways, lead of separate lives, and I would have hoped in the back of my mind that my brother, the Newtown High School chemistry teacher, would come across that boy in his class one day.

But my brother will never teach Jack chemistry.  My son will never get to have a chance encounter on the playground with him either.  Instead, my cousins will continue to stand next to the Pinto family whenever they need a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on.  And the Pinto's will have a seat empty at the table that can never be filled.

Jack. I ran a race for you on May 5th.  I hand picked that race for you because it was a trail run.  I ran through mud and high grass, over bridges and sawdust packed trails.  I did that for you because to me, you will always be an athlete.  You will always be the soul of sports and competition for me.  I will carry your love of the game, of every game, with me for the rest of my life.  I will play for you for the rest of my life.  In your honor and in your place. And I will always remember to teach my son to love the game, which ever game he chooses, and play it with all the heart and dedication that you exhibited while you were here with us. 

All my love,

Here is Jack Pinto.  The 10th angel I have now run for:
Pictures of race day.  Full album available on the facebook page, 26 in 2013 for Sandy Hook:

For Jack, the biggest Giants fan the world have ever know.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Race Announcement: Lauren Rousseau and Jesse Lewis

On Saturday May 18th, I will be running the, "Spring Forward for Sandy Hook" race out of Danbury, CT for Lauren Rousseau.

On Sunday May 19th, I will be running the O'Neill's 5k to benefit the Jesse Lewis Foundation in Norwalk, CT for Jesse Lewis.

Another double header weekend, but after this weekend, I'll be half way through all my races which is crazy.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Every mother in Newtown was missing a child today.  Every mother felt an absence at their dinner table.  With each flower received and every hug given, we all knew that we were short a few.  And that knowledge was painful. 

My son is two.  And it was the first year that he was capable of walking up to me, handing me a gift and uttering the words, "Happy Mother's Day Momma.  I love you."  I cried today at hearing those words come out of his mouth for the first time.  And I cried because there are mother's across Newtown that didn't hear them from all of their children.

Father's and their babies are special and deeply connected.  But mother's and their babies hold an entirely different connection.  It's otherworldly and impossible to explain.  There's this feeling deeply embedded in our chests and when we can't reach our children or be near them, the ache is physical. 

On December 14th, my son was at daycare.  Like all the school's in the area, his was locked down until police were certain that the area was safe and secure again.  I wasn't able to go to him and wrap him in my arms for hours.  I knew he was safe, but I needed him in my arms.  I needed to feel him in my arms, to know that he was safe by seeing him with my own eyes.  But I couldn't.  Those were agonizing hours. And the pain was tangible. But, I got him back.  I got to hold him again.  A mother's arms should never be devoid of their child.  It's cruel.  That is the only way to describe it.  It's the worst thing you could ever do to a woman.  And my heart aches in sisterhood for those women who lost their babies.

So, tonight...I read my son an extra story at bedtime.  I sang him all the songs that he wanted to hear.  I rubbed his back for more time then I usually allow.  I told him how happy he makes me, how much joy he brings to my life every day.  How proud I am to be his mother.  My child will never question how much he means to me.  He will always know that my world revolves around him.  The 26 people taken from the arms of those that loved them with all their heart have taught me to never take one second for granted.  To never allow my arms to be empty with a hug from my son whenever possible.  And while I can't give those mother's a gift to ease their pain, their loss has been a lesson to me.  Not one second, not one, taken for granted.  Be the best mother I can be at all times.  Because nothing else matters.  I can fail at anything else in this lifetime.  But do not allow me to fail at this.  Do not. 

Happy Mothers Day to all you beautiful mother's out there.  It is not always an easy job, but it is the most important job on the planet.  And you are doing great.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Race Reflections: Emilie Parker

Last Saturday, I ran the Beardsley Beast 5k in honor of Emilie Parker.  And it was at this race, on that day that I had tucked away especially for Emilie, that I was reminded of the ever lasting spirit and endurance of a child.  And it couldn't have come at a better time.

There was a little girl at this race- she couldn't have been more than five years old.  Six.  MAYBE.  And she captured my heart and made it ache just a fraction less for the children of Sandy Hook elementary.  Both those that we lost and those that we saved. 

You see, this little girl, this tiny person, ran an entire 5k.  And not just a 5k.  It was one of the hardest 5k's that I've run so far.  Half street running, half trail/hills.  She ran it on those tiny legs.  She never quit.  She never gave up.  And she hustled to the finish line with more spunk and determination than I've seen on most adults.  She was a much needed reminder that children bounce back.  That they persevere and overcome.  And that same spirit would never be lost in the next life. 

As I watched this little girl pick up speed as she raced to the finish line, when she was visibly exhausted and physically spent, I was overcome with emotion and I was holding back tears.  This tiny reminder that if you put an obstacle in a child's way, they will find a way to overcome it.  They will find the path to victory and they will show you that what you thought can't be done, will be done. 

It was from that, that my mind started to race.  That I started thinking about all these children that were in Sandy Hook that day.  How will this shape their lives?  And that's the question, isn't it?  What parent of Sandy Hook Elementary isn't thinking, "what are the repercussions of this tragedy going to be long term for my child?"  As a parent, you couldn't help but worry.  But, for the first time since December 14th, I have rejoiced in the knowledge that these children are going to take this and make themselves stronger.  They are going to make our community stronger.  And I fully and wholeheartedly believe that they will take what they have experienced here and make the world a better place, each and every day that they are in it.

These children have experienced something that most of us will never know.  Thank goodness.  But that horrific life experience will become something positive.  They will make it so- because that's what children do.  They take a road block and the beat it to the ground.  They tell their parents they want to run a 5k and they crush it.  Even if the parent is sure in the back of their mind that they will never be able to complete it.  Mark my words.  The children coming out of Sandy Hook Elementary/Chalk Hill Elementary (their now school) are going to change this world for the better.

I can't wait to watch them thrive.  I can't wait to watch them succeed.  I want to see them on tv passing legislation 30 years from now that will make this world a safer place.  I can't wait to sign up to volunteer for their community action plans.  I can't wait to cheer them on as they bravely step foot back into their rebuilt school on the old Sandy Hook Elementary grounds. 

Miss Emilie has two beautiful sisters.  Just you wait.  They are going to make sure that Emilie is never forgotten.  They are going to live for her every single day.  And Emilie Parker is going to be watching from the clouds, cheering them on, every step of the way.


Here is the beautiful Miss Emilie Parker.  The 9th angel that I have now run for:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Race Announcement: Mary Sherlach

On Mother's Day, Sunday May, 12th, I will be running for Mary Sherlach at the Run Like a Mother 5k in Ridgefield, CT. 

Mary ran like a mother, straight into danger, to save the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th.  Given the fact that this race falls on Mother's Day, I think it's only appropriate to honor a woman who was not only a mother to her students but to her own two daughters as well.

Race Reflections: Honorary Race for the First Responders

A few months back, my good friend Jessica reached out to me.  She knew about my 26 races in 2013 for Sandy Hook and had a suggestion for me of a race to run.  A year ago her brother in law, Chief Michael Maloney of the Greenland NH Police Department, was killed in the line of duty protecting his beloved town.  The town was rocked, so similarly to Newtown, at his death.  Nothing like this had ever happened in Greenland and Chief Maloney's friends and family members were left trying to decide on the best way to honor his memory.  They created the Chief Michael Maloney Memorial Fund, Inc. and began hosting a memorial run that took its participants from the Portsmouth Police Department to the Greenland Police department in a show of unity. 

The memorial fund that the proceeds from the race go towards provides relief for the distressed members, spouses and children of New England Public Safety members who have been killed or injured in the line of duty.  And relief may take the form of direct financial assistance to the victim or victim’s survivors, including but not limited to, educational and vocational assistance. 

To learn more about the Chief Michael Maloney Memorial Fund, please visit:

When Jess approached me about doing this race, I immediately knew that it was something that I would want to participate in.  It would be an honor to race for Chief Maloney's memory as well as the memory of a beloved member of the Newtown community all on the same day.  I started to research a bit into the families of the Newtown victims.  I wanted to see if any of the families had a strong connection to law enforcement, because it just seemed fitting to pair up the this particular race that way.  Only a brief few minutes into my research, did a thought dawn on me.  What better way to honor Chief Maloney than to run in his honor as well as in appreciation of my own town's police officers and first responders?  Hadn't they lost something that day as well?  Hadn't they given a part of themselves away that day?  They deserved to be recognized by this project as well.

I reached out to my friend to make sure that there wouldn't be any hard feelings from the Maloney family if I were to run in honor of a different police department at Chief Maloney's run.  The response from the Maloney family was overwhelmingly positive and they encouraged me to go forward with the idea.

I called on my angel support team, the three amazing women in my life that have created all my race t-shirts, and asked them for one last favor.  To see if they could they create one additional t-shirt for me.  One that honored the first responders of Sandy Hook.  They delivered in record time and the honorary 27th race was set.

Race day was a beautiful day.  Sunny and warm and it felt amazing to be outside taking advantage of it.  Because the race was dedicated in memory to a police officer, there were members of police departments from all over the state running in teams together.  Police escorts riding on motorcycles at the front of the pact.  Police officers lining the course.  It was truly amazing to see that kind of support and unity.  It makes you realize that they aren't just police offices.  They are a brother/sisterhood.  They treat each other from other departments as one of their own.  And just because Chief Maloney wasn't an office from their particular department, doesn't mean that they don't feel his loss just as deeply.  The outpouring of love and support was evident that day.  And I'm sure that the members of the Greenland PD felt that from all those around them.

I've witnessed this type of unity before.  In Newtown, in the months following December 14th, my husband and I were out driving around town one day when we happened to notice a Westport police cruiser stationed at a light.  Down the road further still, we noticed a Danbury police cruiser.  Then one from Monroe. 

"What the heck is going on?" I had asked my husband.  I was worried that some other tragedy had taken place in town and that reinforcements had been called in from surrounding towns to help. 

If you don't get the warm tingly's from what I'm about to tell you, then I don't know what else to say.  I should just shut down this blog right now.

It turns out that following December 14th, many of first responders- Newtown PD, our EMT's and others- were struggling to come to terms with what they had witnessed that horrific day.  Rightfully so.  Many of these brave public servants had maxed out their allotted time off to seek therapy and their much deserved time with their families to grieve and recover.  And what was happening was that police officers from the surrounding towns had volunteered themselves, free of charge, to cover some of the Newtown teams shifts so that they could take additional time off to recover with out being penalized.  Our neighboring town PD's also made sure that not one single Newtown police officer worked on Christmas.

When I heard that, my faith was restored in knowing that good will always out weigh the bad.  That there is an overwhelming number of people that would rather see good come to us than harm.  I get choked up just thinking about that. 

So, don't forget your police department or your EMT's.  Bring them coffee one day.  Or just wave to them as you pass them on the street.  Their one responsibility on this Earth is to keep us safe.  It's a noble job and one that we take for granted in our communities far too often.  I will never forget them for what they sacrificed on December 14th.  A job needed to be done, and they did it.  And they will need time and our love and support in order to move past it.  We owe them at least that.

Thank you Newtown Police and EMT's.  We are behind you and are always here for you.  We love you.  And Chief Michael Maloney.  You are forever in our hearts.


Here are a few photo's from the first responder race:

Making friends with the Greenland PD.

This is my friend Jessica and her Husband Tim.  Chief Maloney was Tim's brother.

Making more PD friends.