I was cold, amped up, anxious and ready to go!
It was 5:30am on a January 2004 morning. After seven hundred miles of training, I was doing my first marathon. It was in the high 30’s that morning and we had to get to the staging area early because transportation was packed. After sitting for in the cold for two hours, we were moving toward the starting area.
As we trudged along with the other 16,000 people doing the marathon and half marathon, my friends and I were excited and nervous. As we got to the place where the racers split, I heard the voice. He was yelling, “Marathoners to the left, Half Marathoners to the right!” I laughed to myself, “I must be really amped up…that guy sounds like my brother.” (Who lives in Tennessee, not Orlando.) As we got closer, this guy continues to bellow out instructions and I am trying to focus on my pre race routine. Just as we get to the crossroad, I purposely go out of my way to see this guy so I can tell my brother after the race that he has a twin in Orlando. I was wrong…he didn’t have a twin. It was him.
I ran up and gave him a big hug. I was so shocked. I asked Jon, “What in the world are you doing here?” He yelled his instructions again and then turned saying, “You are doing your first marathon! I had to be here to cheer you on! Go get em!” Then, he turned and began giving instructions again. I rejoined my friends and just lost it. I have rarely felt such value and honor as what my brother did that day. Kristin and my friends knew about it and weren’t even sure if I would see him. Here is how amazing that is. Disney had one sign that wasn’t printed and it was the one directing runners to the staging corrals. They asked one of the volunteers to be the voice so people didn’t get confused. My brother, who signed up as a volunteer and traveled down without me knowing, said he would do it. It was one place where a volunteer would see every person running before the race. Once all the runners were at the start line, Jon was done as a volunteer. But…he kept his yellow volunteer jacket, which gave him access to any spot on the race. Once he finished, he proceeded to go ahead of me in the race and cheer for me at different checkpoints because his jacket got him in special spots.
Couple of thoughts come to mind. First of all, I am glad I saw him before the race…it was a tough one and I would have thought I was hallucinating when I saw him out on the course. Also, it is really cool to know that someone cares that much to do something like that behind the scenes. It reminds me that God is doing the same thing. Another thought – sometimes, our mere presence, speaks a message louder than words. Jon answered a question that comes to mind is “How far will you go to impact someone’s life?” Finally, Jon’s yellow jacket gave him unlimited access to cheer me on…how much more does a God with unlimited access do the same thing?