Sunday, August 16, 2015
"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies"
I have been struggling on how to properly memorialize sweet Gwendolyn and extending my condolences to Bill and Victoria. I will do my best. I remember first hearing about Gwendolyn and the Strongs while I was preparing for Western States 2010. I would be running in honor of Owen and all others affected by SMA. Before the race Heather mentioned how she had met this amazing family online while dealing with Owen's passing. She encouraged me to contact them and I first reached out to Victoria. I was amazed how sweet, compassionate, and dignified Victoria was. Her grace radiated through her emails and she was very excited I would now be running for the GSF. I soon met Bill online and was amazed by his strength, compassion and dignity. If I was half the man Bill Strong was I would be doing alright. I started to follow the GSF and was amazed by that little angel Gwendolyn. I watched how Bill and Victoria celebrated her life and would not let her be excluded. Running Western States in 2010, I continually drew on her strength when I felt weak. I had a sheet of paper with a picture of Owen and the names of Gwendolyn and other SMA babies. I took it out many times during the race when I was feeling low. They empowered me and motivated me. We have run for Gwendolyn and SMA ever since. Sometimes the weakest are the strongest and the strongest are the weakest. In 2012, myself and Kenny made our way to Santa Barbara to finally meet Gwendolyn and her parents in person. Although it was a short visit, it was a remarkable experience. It was an honor to finally meet this amazing family. We learned how relentless and insidious this disease really is. We watched Gwendolyn's big beautiful eyes follow Bill attentively wherever he went. I watched how amazing Bill and Victoria were as parents. This special little girl was in the best of hands. Sadly it was just a short visit but it had a profound affect on me and will for the rest of my life. When I try to explain to people who have no idea what SMA is about, I often find it difficult to find the right words. Cruel, insidious, unrelenting. Those words aptly describe what SMA is. But when I try to explain to people how amazing Gwendolyn, Bill and Victoria are, the words I use to describe them often feel inadequate. In my line of work, I often see the absolute worst in human beings. With the Strongs, I have seen the absolute best. They shared beautiful Gwendolyn with all of us and taught us how to be better. Gwendolyn has touched so many lives and will continue to do so for the longest of times. In our community, there was no SMA awareness prior to Owen and Gwendolyn. Now there are thousands and that number will continue to grow. What one little girl has done for this world continues to inspire and amaze me. This year has been a difficult year for me. Mostly self inflicted pain and mistakes made. I don't know what the future may hold for me. I know changes need to be made and they will be made. Once before, I drew on the strength of Gwendolyn and other SMA babies to help me out through some dark times. Once again I will draw upon their strength to help me through. I owe myself and them that much. Sweet Gwendolyn, thank you for inspiring me to be a better person. Thank you for shining your bright light upon all of us. You will be missed greatly but never forgotten... Bill and Victoria, I love you guys very much and I am eternally grateful to you for sharing you sweet angel with us. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will always have hope! Godspeed Gwendolyn