Last night, my husband, his friend, Gray and I were driving home from a concert,
(Avett Brothers and Jimmy Buffett)
and we turned on Mumford & Sons.
Gray announced that it was "his favorite,"
Kyle played "the car drum," which happened to be the door outside the car window,
and his friend and I sang.
It was a great moment.
During our performance,
I couldn't help but think about how happy I was at that exact moment.
Volume up. Windows down. Singing loudly.
And maybe it was that the image of vest-wearing, banjo players making me grin,
or perhaps we were still euphoric from dancing under fireworks,
but I like to think that at this point in my life,
and with all the hard work with fundraising and running,
that I was just happy.
As the two-week countdown begins to the final run in Boston,
I sat this morning and thought back to the previous 5 months.
The way my stomach dropped when I hit "send" to apply for Team Hoyt.
The tears that burst from my eyes when I received my acceptance letter.
The butterflies in my stomach when I called to tell Ryan.
How husband and I had to use our credit card to buy celebratory beers that night.
Realizing that I have absolutely no money to even get to Boston.
Realizing that fundraising itself is a full-time job.
Plugging in my sewing machine for the first time.
Teaching myself to make an apron, and following that by making 147.
Huffing and puffing through 2-milers, to finishing 20 with ease.
The hurt I felt when I discovered that my brother was slightly embarrassed.
The motivation it took to keep going.
The bond that my father and I formed.
The togetherness of all people who knew my family and then those who didn't.
The power I felt when I finally raised enough money to pay for my trip.
The friendships I've made with my teammates.
The hours I spent on the road instead of playing with my child.
And perhaps the greatest moment was realizing that it was me who was meant to do this.
Years ago, my mother told me that I came about
because she and my father wanted to bring some light into the family after what happened.
But let's face it,
I didn't exactly deliver that ray of sunshine every day during my youth.
However, I like to think now more than ever,
that this is the light that they were hoping for.
This experience has not been easy,
in fact, on many occasions I wanted to quit.
But through every pain in my knee,
during every awful run that I cursed,
and every pang of guilt that I felt not spending with my son,
I learned that this light that I had to share was worth it all.
It is through this whole experience that I feel my life as of right now is complete.
And that makes me happy.
So, to Ryan:
You gave me the inspiration that I needed to make others aware.
This whole campaign was not about bringing attention to you,
but rather giving it to those who need it in your honor.
It warms my heart to know that through my efforts,
that other children will know that with perseverance,
that they, too, can accomplish whatever they want in life.
To Mom and Dad:
Neither of you ever gave up in creating equal rights for Ryan,
while also keeping each of your children in mind.
Thank you for teaching these incredible values to our family.
I know you are proud,
and I'm happy to take over the torch that's been burning for 29 years now.
To all of you:
Thank you so very much for contributing to this cause,
and inevitably for your contribution to me and my family's hope and happiness.
Thank for you for the words of encouragement, support and kind words.
On April 16th, the anniversary of my brother's accident,
I will finish the Boston Marathon in honor of Ryan,
but it will most certainly not end the race for awareness and equality.
Thank you all again!
Here's a snapshot of this weekend's Parrotheads: