Charity Motivation: Picking Berries

I know a lot of my posts are all about having the opportunity to run the Marine Corps Marathon by raising money for the charity The Little Things for Cancer. While it is an awesome chance to run a big race, my motivation is not simply from the end result of what I’ll be able to do. I consider myself a private sort of person, in that there are many things I choose not to share, but I feel it’s so important that I share this.

My motivation is not due to a race, but rather it’s due to picking berries.

I was just a kid when my Uncle John died from cancer. The bulk of my memories are of the good times. There’s very few I remember of him being in the hospital or being sick. Years later, when I was better able to understand why and how he died, I was told the cancer literally ate away at his body leaving him horribly emaciated by the time he passed. It was one of those times where you wonder if death almost seems kinder.

UncleJohnThis is one of the few pictures I have of us together, picking berries for my grandmother.

Even now, years later, it’s hard for me to look at the picture and think of him without crying. Sometimes it seems silly, as my uncle was the fun one. He would play with us kids outside and help us get into trouble. He helped shovel the snow so we could go out with our sleds. It’s these memories I hold onto.

The Little Things for Cancer’s mission is to give to cancer patients and their caregivers. To create good memories to hold on to, the same way I have. It’s those little things that help.

Because now that I’m older, I can’t help but think of my uncle out picking berries with me. That I never got to truly know the good man that he was. That he will never know the woman I’ve become or the things I’ve accomplished. I couldn’t invite him to see me graduate from high school or college. There was no excited call about completing my first half marathon or marathon. Cancer took away those opportunities from him and my family.

Those thoughts can get overwhelming when thinking about the family we’ve lost. So I do my best to focus on those good memories. Hoping that those little things, like picking berries with his niece, stayed with him and brought him comfort the way they have me.

So I’ll raise money for charity and run this race in honor of the military, but I’ll definitely be racing it for my Uncle John.


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