What I vow to do in 2012

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

We’re only hours away from celebrating a new year. I’m thankful that we’ve reached the end of 2011. The year has been a roller coaster full of ups and downs and I can’t help but be hopeful for beginning a new year. It seems each year brings it’s own blessings and challenges. This year has challenged me and my family in ways I never thought possible. And now as 2012 approaches I have thought long and hard about a lot of things and among the many commitments I have for the year ahead – I find myself gearing up to join “Team Spina Bifida”. In 2012 I vow to find it in myself to run a half-marathon in support of my baby boy and all those that have been affected by spina bifida.

Nearly a year ago I was contacted by a mother who has a son with spina bifida. A woman I never knew or met in my life wrote me while I was still pregnant and she said she was running her first marathon and that she was doing so in support of her son and so many others affected by spina bifida and that she would be thinking of me and my son and praying for us as she ran her first marathon. Back then I recall thinking of how inspirational it was for a complete stranger to reach out to me and to give me hope. I thought about it last year and recall thinking of the little I knew about spina bifida and I knew back then that Chance would be born with a birth defect that we all would have to endure for his entire life. With his life, much like a marathon…it’s not how fast we can reach the finish line…it’s that we can endure the challenges. Endurance is defined as “the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions” and as I think of my baby boy I think of how much he has had to endure in just the first ten months of his life. He’s went through 11 surgeries. He’s spent more than a month of his life in the hospital. He’s now beginning to require physical therapy to help him with his mobility. His future is so promising…yet, I know it is uncertain what challenges he may have ahead. I am so optimistic but I realize our family must endure the challenges his spina bifida may bring to his life.

Yes, endurance. Most people who know me know that I am active but to be honest, I’ve always hated running. I was in the military for nearly six years and I swear they ran me to the ground. At times I was held to 18th airborne corp standards and was no where near the fastest runner. In fact, for a couple years I was the only female in a platoon and I suppose God never blessed me with endurance when it came to running because distance running was always what challenged me most in the military. I recall having a special forces platoon sergeant who use to run us 4 to 8 miles some days and it seemed so impossible in my mind…but every run I some how finished, definitely never the fastest, but I always finished. I could road march all day long in the military. I even walked 15 miles nearly 3 years ago for relay for life but I have never ran more than 8 miles. And it’s been 14+ years since I ran that far. Usually 2-3 miles is a reasonable goal for me…anything more is pure torture. Yes, I fear running long distances.

Yes, I am ending the year and ready to begin a new year and support my baby boy and all the others out there affected by spina bifida by running a half marathon this year…likely in Kentucky at the end of April. Call me crazy if you like…but I think about my baby boy and if he can endure so much just in his first year of life…I can endure running 13.1 miles along with the hundreds of miles I’ll likely run training for it. Perhaps along the way I might be able to once again do some good and help create some awareness for spina bifida. It’s so easy to want to give up on the things that you know will hurt…on the things you fear…over a year ago that “thing” was spina bifida. I was scared to death and wanted to give up. But I’m so glad I didn’t. And now it’s time to do something in support of my baby boy, even if it’s something that seems like torture to me….it’s time to do the things I once thought I never could do. I will not give up…just like I’ll never give up on my baby boy. In the near future I will share an update and let you all know ways you can help support me in this crazy little goal I have for 2012.

We LOVE you Chance…together we can endure anything…always remember “Love bears all things, Hopes all things, Endures all things. Love never fails.” (Corinthians 13: 7-8)

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January 1, 2012 - 3:34 am

Elaine - You, and Chance, are already great inspiration to many people; I think what you are planning will hopefully challenge many people to dig down a little deeper for more inner strength to not just endure, but to live life to the fullest! Good Luck! I know you will reach your goal!

January 8, 2012 - 5:09 pm

Ella Konopacki - Hi Amanda,

you are very insprational and I would love to support you if there is a way for me to do so. You and your family are in my thoughts a lot, especially now that I am pregnant again myself.

Kisses for little Chance and hi to your family.

Ella, Daniel, Mateo and little button in mama’s belly

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