I’ve been a bit lazy since running the Mini 2 weeks ago. And for no good reason. My legs work just fine. So when Kelly and Jaime emailed me earlier this week asking if I was interested in running a local 5K this weekend with them and their kids, I jumped at the chance. I needed a good kick in the pants to get moving again. And my motivation ramped up ten-fold once I learned what the run was all about.
Andrea Vellinga, a 30 year old wife/ mother from Pendleton IN, was at the Indiana State Fair last August, spending what she thought was just another night out with girlfriends. One of her favorite bands, Sugarland, was about to take the stage. However, fun turned to tragedy when a strong gust of wind barreled through, causing the entire stage to collapse without warning. Since Andrea had such “great” seats close to the stage, she found herself one of 40 people who were gravely injured from the freak accident, sustaining a severe traumatic brain injury, a collapsed lung, and 3 fractured vertebrae. She was taken to the hospital nearly immediately, underwent emergent brain surgery, and remained in a medically-induced coma for a number of weeks. Her recovery has been long and arduous, but the bottom line is that she has recovered. Amazingly well. In fact, she was recently released from the hospital where she has been undergoing therapy. And this weekend, to celebrate her 31st birthday, she was honored with her very own race. The Big May 5K.
Just after 8a on Saturday, I met up with the mamas and their littles in downtown Pendleton.
We picked up our bibs and partook in the pre-race festivities outside the local church.
We did a little “pinking out,,,”
Partook in a little bouncey action,,,
And of course, had a little pre-race dance party!
After listening to some heart-felt speeches and making our way to the start line, we were off! The race took us through Falls Park, through MANY garage sales, and up, down and around town. Pendleton is such a charming space. It reminds me of a little Petoskey. Initially, things were rough. I was so terribly out of shape that even a slow pace was taxing. And the mamas had quite a time weaving in and out of so many runners/ walkers with their double strollers. But they & I ended up fairing pretty well overall. I even tried my hand at steering one of those monsters towards the end of the race and I’ll tell you, it was NOT an easy task. I gave the girls back to Kelly the second I heard a man on the sidelines yell “Way to go, Mamas!” 😉
The race itself was very well organized, from the bibs, to the course, to the post-race snacks and entertainment. Weather-wise it was a touch warm ~ so much so that we worked up a sweat running 11 minute miles! Once we finished, we cooled down in the parking lot while the kids blew bubbles and did a little ribbon dancing. It was honestly one of my favorite days in Indiana.
A short while later, while snacking, we noticed the cheers getting louder in the distance. The announcer said that Andrea was making her way down the final stretch! Kel, Jaim and I looked at each other and couldn’t help but tear up. The atmosphere was just so amazingly emotional. This is a woman who at one time wasn’t sure she could walk again. And there she was, finishing her first 5K following tragedy. Makes for quite a humbling moment. One we won’t forget for a long time.
(Look for Jaime 48 seconds in!)
This was an event that was hoping to get at least a couple hundred participants. They ended up with 782. Now that’s a birthday present. It just goes to show you how much support this woman has had over the past 270 days. Unwaivering support that has helped get her to where she is today. I’m lucky to say that I know what support like that feels like,,,
So from here on out, when I think about being lazy, I will think about Andrea. Her strength. Her determination. And how she is walking and running because now, she can. That should be all the inspiration I need.