At the ripe old age of 23, I moved to the coast of NC with my Boboman in tow and very little money in the bank. Luckily for me, I became fast friends with a new neighbor in my apartment complex. Erin had a young baby, a recent separation from her husband, and an inspiring story of spinal cord injury survival. Though only in her late 20’s, Erin served as both a big sister and mother substitute for my new home away from home. I spent much of my time in her apartment, playing with her beautiful daughter Emma and eating the delicious homecooked meals she generously shared with me.
My job required me to work all holidays, and once again Erin and her family stepped in and invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them. Through holiday and birthday celebrations, as well as regular family visits, I was able to meet and spend time with Erin’s sister Kerry, brother-in-law Ray and their two adorable children.
A few years later, Erin and I both moved on from our little apartment dwelling. She got remarried and had another beautiful daughter, I moved into a house with a roommate and eventually got married myself. Now that we are 30-40 minutes apart, I don’t see Erin and her family as often as I’d like, but I try to see them when I can.
In 2006, Erin’s brother-in-law Ray was diagnosed with a Chordoma brain tumor. He put up a fierce battle, but passed away in 2008 at the young age of 45. From my interactions with him, I saw Ray as a laid-back, funny family man with a great spirit and I’m grateful that I got to know him even on that limited basis. If you would like to read more about his story, please follow this link.
In Ray’s honor, Run for Ray was created to benefit his family and the Chordoma Foundation. I was not able to participate this year, but did send in a donation and they were kind enough to send me a t-shirt and participation medal even though I didn’t earn it.
Come rain or shine (or cold or flu!) I plan to make next year’s Run for Ray. If you live in NC or are willing to travel, I hope you come as well. If not, there are donation directions on the website.
That was a lot of backstory, but as promised I wanted to explain my Project365 picture from March 9. When I received my tshirt in the mail, I had an immediate reminder to be kind to the new people I meet. They just may become family.