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:
- I would announce the project on facebook.
- A bunch of my friends would say, "WooHoo! That's fantastic! Good for you!"
- A few close friends and family would donate.
- I would run a ton of races.
- I would finish running a ton of races.
- I would raise a few hundred dollars for the Sandy Hook Support Fund.
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 athttp://sportzedge.com/2013/06/
If you would like to read Lindsay's blog, where she reflects on each race
and those she is honoring, visit http://26in2013forsandyhook.
And finally, if you would like to help Lindsay get closer to her goal of
raising $26,000 in 2013, you may donate by visitinghttp://www.crowdrise.com/
Thank you all for a wonderful year. I hope you are all able to enjoy each
and every day of your summer!
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!