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"go wolverine!" "yeah wolverine, you got this!"

those were some of the many cheers i heard aimed in my direction sunday morning as i ran my second 10k. it was a lot of fun, having people call me out and reference my shirt. but none of them knew why i was wearing it.

when i was a senior in high school, my sister unexpectedly got pregnant. despite the hardships my family knew were in store for her being a single mother, we were excited for a new baby, and i had images of mini-tutus and pink shoes dancing in my head.

except my sister had a baby boy, parker.

i taught him everything he knows.
instead of princesses and sparkles, i got to share my love of dinosaurs and baseball with the coolest little dude ever. through all the times he made me sit down and watch cars or play in the backyard with nerf guns, i always wondered why i ever wanted a niece (i now have a niece, so i'm reminded of how fun feminine things are, too). he was and is my favorite little guy, and it was really hard for both of us when i moved out of the house for college, but the welcome home hugs always made it easier.

i'll never forget the phone call i got at 7:30am one morning during my second year of college. parker had been getting sick over the past few months, and my sister finally was able to get an appointment at the children's hospital. what they found was a brain tumor near parker's brainstem, one that needed operating on immediately. though we thought the surgery put us in the clear, we soon found out it grew back and was cancerous. what followed from there was years of chemo and hospital visits, and a restricted toddlerhood for parker. but he handled it all like a champ. i've never seen anybody, adult or otherwise, act so nonchalantly about being sick. he rarely cried or complained, and charmed all of the nurses and the doctors with his funny personality.

nowadays, parker is off chemo and has seasonal mri appointments to keep watch on the tumor. he's able to play sports and go on trips and be a normal little boy. and it's awesome. if i ever need motivation or inspiration or a reminder of how blessed i am, i think of my nephew and all he's been through in his short six and a half years on earth.

so when i got the email reminder that the chicago spring half marathon and 10k was benefiting brain tumor research, i knew i wanted to have a little shout out to parker. predictably, the kid loves superheroes and x-men, so i wore a wolverine shirt in his honor. when i got tired along the course, i just thought of how i wanted to be able to report back to parker that i did my best, so i pushed on.
parker now wants this shirt, despite me assuring him it won't fit.
together, the runners raised over $70,000 for brain tumor research. it was a really awesome experience to be apart of; the running community impacts so many lives.

who motivates you push harder? do any of your favorite races have a cause close to your heart?

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