Relay For Life

It’s been a while since I wrote a real Bootstraps post. I stopped writing regularly back in 2012 after starting my MBA. The workload was just too much for me. I welcomed my son into the world in 2013 and then graduated in 2014 (Yay Me!). Soon after that I was changing jobs, separating from my wife and starting the podcast that I’d had on my mind for a couple of years ( if you haven’t checked it out yet).

Most of my free time now is dedicated to the show. The recording, editing, marketing and what not is enough to keep anybody busy. Still, I have a soft spot in my heart for Bootstraps. It represents a lot of firsts for me. It was my first attempt at building something, at attracting an audience, and at writing regularly. I’m still proud of it, but don’t figure that I’ll be posting a lot of articles to it in the future, particularly because I can write about them or talk about them on Trivial Warfare.

Still, every once in a while something happens that just doesn’t fit what I’m doing on the other show. That’s what happened this weekend and I want to share it with you because it really touched my heart and reminded me of an old lesson.

It started in the middle of last week, one of my coworkers asked if I was going to participate in the Relay for Life that weekend. There are a lot of chances to walk for charity in our society today and I haven’t given it a second thought. I’m not exactly the walking type. In fact, many times when people see me coming they choose to move over and walk on the grass rather than share the sidewalk with me. However, I’ve been walking a lot lately to get more exercise so I thought what the heck, if it’s not a hassle I might give it a shot. If I could get in and out then there wouldn’t be anything wrong with representing my company while getting my exercise in.

I found out that the event would be way over on the West side of town, about 25 minutes away. Ugh, that’s no fun I should probably just skip it. Then I found out that the Relay isn’t technically a relay and I could get in and out without any problem. Ok, well maybe I’ll give it a try. Then I thought, what the heck, if I’m going to do it maybe other people will do it too. So I shared on Facebook that I’ll be walking.

It didn’t take long before I get texts from my brother and step-mother. Bob is going too and wants to know when I’ll be there. He’s bringing the family and apparently it’s some kind of all-day event for them. Huh, that’s weird, who wants to spend all day at a walk? I’m obviously missing something here. Then I get another text where he reminds me to stop and see Beverly while I’m there. Wait a minute, my step-mother will be there too? Is this some kind of weird family reunion that I’ve been completely unaware of until now?

Then I get my first message from my Beverly, she wants to know if I’m going to join her team or be on the Adecco team. Umm… teams? I’m really just going for the exercise, just a quick 5k, get in and get out. I don’t even really know why I’m doing it in the first place. I’m confused.

Bob enlightens me in his next text. Beverly is some kind of organizer and team leader for the event. I’d like to say that I knew nothing about that, but I have some vague memory of seeing that sometime in the past so I guess I did. It makes sense of course. Since my father passed away of pancreatic cancer in 2006 all of us are much more aware of cancer related things in general… well, except for me I guess. I’m the guy who signs up for a cancer walk to get exercise instead of doing it to support my step mother who is almost certainly doing it in memory of my father. Ugh. I’m such a terrible son sometimes. There’s no sense claiming anything different, I’m pretty sure my mother will back me up on it.

So I make my plan. I’ll get there early in the day. I’ve heard there’s a storm coming that evening so I want to get it out of the way before getting rained on. I’ll do my 5k, hug some necks, and walk away feeling good about myself (at least a little). That was the plan until Friday night happened. See, I work in IT and one of the things about working in IT is sometimes you have to work some weird hours. That Friday was going to be one of those times. I went out with some friends to watch baseball during the evening and when I got home at 10pm I needed to log in to work so I could validate a website migration.

Unfortunately the migration wasn’t finished when I checked in. There was a problem. It didn’t look good. They were going to need some time. I logged off, did some work on my show and checked back in at 10:45. Still a no go. I figured it couldn’t be much longer so I stayed logged in while messing around on Facebook a bit. 11:15 – nope. Midnight – nope, 1:00AM – nope. I stayed logged in at 1am, I figured what the heck, it can’t be too much longer. 15 minutes later the PM messages me to say I might as well take a break, it’s going to be a while. I take a 30 minute nap and check back in at 1:50ish. Getting close now. We finally got started on our part a little after 2am and signed off on the work at 3:10. Thank God! Bedtime!!!

So, getting to the relay early wasn’t going to happen. My internal alarm went off at 7:30. I told it where it could stick it and rolled over for more sleep. I finally struggled into some form of wakefulness at 10:30 or so – 30 minutes after the event started. Ugh. Oh well, I might as well grab some brunch and do a couple of errands before going over. Jeez, the sky is dark, is that rain already? Oh for goodness sakes. I should just call it a day. I’m not feeling great, it’s raining, what’s the point?

That’s when my responsibility complex kicked in. You know the thing that forces you to keep your word or do the things that you said you’d do? Yeah, mine is a bit overzealous. So I put on my walking clothes and headed out. I stopped to get gas near my apartment and the bottom just completely dropped out of the clouds, it was pouring. Well, I thought, maybe being on the Westside is a good thing, maybe it won’t be raining over there.

Yeah right, that was a sucker bet. When I got to the school where the event was being held there were people scrambling all over the place. It didn’t look like anybody was walking. I parked my car, grabbed my umbrella and decided my first move would be to find Beverly. She was in the second tent I checked, packing up a bin and looking a bit frazzled. Where have you been? I thought you were going to be here this morning, I went looking for you. Sorry, worked late, it’s awfully muddy out here (I comment as my shoes sink into the ground). Yeah, tornado warning, we have to pack everything up and move to the gym.

Oh. It’s like that? I looked around at the rain coming down, the people packing up, and everything that needed to be done and had one of those simple moments of clarity. You’re obviously not going to be walking, you should probably offer to help. Can I help? Yep, start packing, we’re loading up the van. I try to maintain control of my umbrella but that’s a fool’s errand. A minute later I toss the umbrella, accept the fact that I’m going to get soaked and dirty, and put my back into it. After 15 minutes packing I bring my truck around and we load the bigger items into the bed since we didn’t have time to pack things well in the van. Fast forward an hour and we’re moved into the gym and finally set up. I did as much of the heavy lifting as possible, it just seemed right. I was pooped.

It was maybe halfway through the move that I realized what God had done in this space. I showed up to an event that I never intended to go to at a time that I didn’t intend to be there which just so happened to be the perfect time to help my family when they needed it most. Think it’s a coincidence? I assure you it isn’t. It’s just the way He works.

I was so happy to have been there to help. It reminds me a lesson that I constantly need help remembering. It is only when we let go that God can work through us. I didn’t have any plans that weekend other than my normal work on the show. I didn’t have Sebastian and I had planned to relax a bit. God had other plans for that time. It may be extra work, but I definitely prefer to be used than to sit unused and useless.

So that’s the story of how God rearranged my weekend to benefit others. Hope you got a little something out of it.

Be blessed,


Posted on May 7, 2015, in Real Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. And a BIG Thank You to you, Jonathan, because you are right, you did show up at the right time. Of course, I would have loved for the weather to be as it was earlier in the morning all day and walked around the track with you a few times to chat and remember your Dad, Gene.

    Relay For Life has many purposes for many people. First, it is the number one fundraiser for the American Cancer Society each year. It happens in over thirty countries around the world. The event is a time we celebrate the Survivors and the Caregivers, raise additional funds, remember those we have lost to any type of cancer and vow to participate next year with even more enthusiasm. True, we do get in some exercise and at least one member of each team should be on the track at all times, there is a purpose for the continuous walk. The event represents the cycle of receiving a cancer diagnosis, surgery/treatments and recovery(Survivor) or Not. We’re “walking” throughout the process…even during the night hours…cancer never sleeps. During the Luminaria ceremony, the track is lined with the decorated white bags everyone has done earlier in the day. We decorate white paper bags and write on them the names of our loved ones…either in Honor or in Memory. It’s a very solemn time. As we walk around the Luminaria-lined track the names that are written on the bags are read aloud.

    Again, thank you for your help. We would have eventually finished the move but your assistance made it a lot easier and faster. We would have been much wetter!! Love you bunches! 👍😉

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