For many, driving a van of 6 runners who they never met before to their respective exchanges over a period of 24+ hours is not something they would give up two days with their families to do. For me, driving the van for the annual Cape Cod Ragnar relay is one of the most meaningful, emotional, and most importantly, healing things I have done. I wish I was a runner, and someday maybe I will be, but for now I am the proud driver, head cheerleader and caretaker for my runners who are now also my special friends.
So why is this so important to me? Well because it is the one thing I know I can do to help Nicole and Ian in their mission to touch as many lives as they can in memory of their son Dylan. On the morning of December 14th, 2012 Nicole and I put our children on the bus, chatted quickly about the upcoming holidays and then headed off in our separate ways. Little did we know we would be reunited in just a short time at the firehouse after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. After locating my children and sending them home with my husband, I stayed with Nicole and helped her search for Dylan. The search among the children was not successful, and it quickly became clear that Dylan was among the missing. I was determined to not give up hope, but as the hours passed that hope began to dwindle and then… the worst experience of my life happened! The horrific news was delivered to the parents and instantly I was at a complete loss of words and actions. What could I possibly say or do that could remotely ease their pain? At that moment and the days and months that followed I felt that there wasn’t anything I could possibly do for them.
My children survived that day, but yet there was still this massive wound that I just could not heal. The years passed by and still I hurt. I needed to do something to help ease the level of guilt that was consuming me. At the time I offered my driving services to Ian, I had no idea that Ragnar would be the much needed medicine, and I am so incredibly grateful that he needed another driver to complete a team in 2015!
I had no idea what I was getting myself into, so I packed my bag and hoped for the best. Lucky for me I was paired up with the best team captains and 4 other runners, all incredible people! Our team name is “The Misfits” because, for the most part none of us knew each other, but after the 24+ hour ride together we had formed a very special bond. All of us were participating in the relay for a common reason, to support Dylan’s Wings of Change and Nicole and Ian. For me, participating in this event was extremely personal, it allowed me to begin to overcome that which haunted me for so long. I couldn’t do anything to change what happened on that horrible day, but today I can drive, encourage and care for a van full of runners while at the same time supporting the foundation and all that it stands for in memory of my sweet neighbor Dylan.
In 2016 The Misfits participated in our second Ragnar Relay. Three of our runners from the prior year were not able to participate, so the returning three runners along with one new member of the team completed the race. Yes our team of 6 was now a team of 4 which meant our runners would be running more miles than the prior year. Not one complaint, just pure determination and teamwork. I am honored and proud to be a part of this team, a team that makes me feel so special!
One of these days I just might participate as a runner, but for now I will continue to drive.