Each year at the ZERO Run/Walk in Greensboro, we have a course monitor who rides the course on a bike to ensure that runners are safe and to communicate the position of the first and last runners.
The course monitor, named Jimmy, told us a story after the race about meeting the last walker on the course. Jimmy first noticed the last walker, Joe, when he was getting on the Greenway. Joe was struggling, but was determined to finish. Jimmy checked on Joe several times as he progressed toward the finish line, and later asked Joe if he minded if he walked the rest of the way with him.
Joe agreed, and Jimmy stepped off his bike so they could walk together. They continued together towards the finish and Jimmy learned that Joe is currently undergoing radiation and chemo. As they neared the finish line, Jimmy had radioed ahead of their progress. Along with myself and Sheila, Alliance Urology employees and race day volunteers joined Joe and Jimmy to climb the hill to the finish line.
Joe told them that he came out that morning to support the cause and told his wife she could stay at home, so no one was there to cheer him on. As Joe neared the finish line there was a roar of cheers to help him across with me, Sheila, and Jimmy by his side.
A lot of those that were there to cheer him as he turned the corner were my daughters and my nieces. They said they had tears in their eyes as they watched him come up that hill. My daughter told me on the way home, “Mom, you can’t stop volunteering for this race, when Joe came up that hill and you were holding his hand, I started to cry. I now know why you want to do this and it makes me want to do more too”. She called me last night and said she was telling her friend about it. This girl told Grace that her dad has prostate cancer but they didn’t want to tell anyone. Grace said, “well you need to run the race next year in Greensboro for your dad and see how many people show up.” Her friend wants to run it now next year.
I was HONORED to walk Joe over that finish line. He could barely catch his breath walking up that hill and had to keep stopping but he kept saying “I came here to do this race and I am going to finish no matter how long it takes me”. And he apologized to Sheila and I for how long it was taking him. We told him it didn’t matter if it took all day, we would be by his side ‘til the end. I will never forget that walk up that hill and the determination of that man. I didn’t run the race that day BUT, I was the one who WON. I received something far beyond words can explain and my life is richer because of it.
Jimmy later shared how touched he was too by his short time he spent with Joe on the course. He said, “you know we find lots of stuff to complain about each day, but here was Joe out there supporting the ZERO race and he is fighting for his life.” We are all fighting for Joe!