Stay in the Race

STAY IN THE RACE

By Teri Couture

Mimi was at work one day when one of her co-workers came to her with a chart.  She told Mimi she was wondering if Mimi would like to run in a race for a worthy charity.

 

Mimi laughed.  “Um…no!” said Mimi, thinking her running days were over when she had her back, knee and shoulder operated on.  The woman looked at her like that was not an option.

 

“Please sign here,” said the woman.

 

Mimi didn’t read the document.  She just figured it was to confirm that Mimi was not running, but the woman got mixed up and gave Mimi the wrong paper to sign.

 

The day before the race, Mimi got a package at work.  She was really excited because she rarely got packages.  She thought of all the wonderful things it could be.  Maybe her bosses had gotten together and bought her a nice gift for all of her hard work.  So she tore into the package, but when she looked inside, there was a t-shirt that said, “Running for a Cause.”  Mimi figured there must be some mistake.  She went to the woman’s desk that had asked her to sign the document and gave her the t-shirt.  She explained about the apparent mistake.

 

“This must belong to someone else,” said Mimi.

 

“No,” said the woman looking at her notes.  She gave the t-shirt back to Mimi.  “There’s no error.  I have you marked down for running the 5-mile race.”  Mimi stared at her.  “NOT ME!” said Mimi with a laugh.  “You definitely have the wrong person.”

 

The woman shuffled through some papers.  “Here it is.  Is this your signature?” she asked.

 

“Well yes, but….” started Mimi.

 

“Then you have to run.  We already picked a handicapped child to run with you.  You can’t back out now” was the woman’s explanation.

 

Mimi didn’t want to hurt the woman’s feelings.  She certainly didn’t want to disappoint a handicapped child.  But there was NO WAY that Mimi could run five feet, let alone five miles!  Mimi silently asked God to show her what to do.  He didn’t answer Mimi’s request, so she did nothing.  She walked away still holding the t-shirt.

 

“Well, God.  It’s You, me and the child,” said Mimi.  “Are you sure you want me to do this?”  There was no answer.  Mimi took that as a ‘yes’.

 

Mimi fasted and prayed for days before the race.  She was not ready for this.  She was not in any condition to run, but she showed up with the t-shirt on when the race began.  She kept thinking that God would change His mind and cause something to happen.  She had prayed for rain, but it was bright and sunny.  She had prayed for no one to show up, but the place was teeming with well-wishers lining up outside.

 

When Mimi got to the long line where runners were, she saw the woman that had given her the t-shirt.  She started to explain that this was a huge mistake, but just then, her “partner” appeared.  It was a beautiful little girl with long blonde hair and big blue eyes.  She had braces on both legs and walked slowly and with a lot of effort.  Mimi felt bad for her.  She felt ashamed that she had complained about her neck, back and knee.  She determined to get in the race and encourage the little girl.

 

“Hi!” said the girl cheerily.  “I’m Alice and I am going to run this race with you!”

 

“Hi, Alice.  Nice to meet you,” said Mimi.  “We will do it together!”

 

They lined up at the starting point.  Alice looked at Mimi.  She looked worried.  “What’s the matter, Alice?” asked Mimi.

 

“Well, I’m afraid we may not be able to go very fast,” she said almost crying.  “My legs don’t always do what I want them to.”

 

“Neither do mine!” agreed Mimi.  Mimi put her arm around Alice.  “Then we’ll walk if we have to and if you get tired, we’ll stop.”

 

“Okay,” said Alice, still sounding unsure of herself.

 

The gun went off and before they knew it, and adults and children were off and running, some running well, others moving along with walkers or crutches as fast as they could go.  But Alice and Mimi seemed to crawl.  Mimi’s knee was aching before they even went around the track once.  Alice was trying as hard as she could to keep up with Mimi, but she kept losing her balance.  Mimi had to keep catching her and setting her upright.

 

Finally Alice started crying.  They were all so far ahead of her.  This was no use.  She sat down right on the track and started sobbing.

 

“Are you ok?” asked Mimi.  “Did you hurt yourself?  Should I get the ambulance?”

 

“No, I’m ok” answered Alice through sobs.  “It’s just that we will never catch up at this rate.”

 

Mimi sat down next to Alice.  “Alice, we can’t quit.  We need to keep going.  It’s not about winning the race, it’s about finishing.  You can do this.  I can do this.  We just have to take one step at a time.  Even if it takes all day, we need to stay in the race, ok?”

 

Alice was encouraged.  She stood up and tried again.  Mimi kept on encouraging her.  “You can do it, Alice.  Don’t’ worry about everyone else.”

 

Alice watched as couples passed her more than once.  She knew it would take a very long time for her to complete the 5 miles.  Mimi even wondered to herself if she would still be running at nighttime.

 

They both encouraged each other.  Finally, Mimi stopped.  She was so out of breathe that she thought one more step would literally kill her.  “I’m sorry, Alice.  You will have to go on without me.   I just can’t do it,” sobbed Mimi.

 

“Oh, yes you can!”  cried Alice.  Alice put Mimi’s hand over her shoulder and pulled her up.  What a brave thing for Alice to do!

 

She let Mimi lean on her for the last round.  Everyone had long finished the race.  Mimi figured that everyone had probably gone home by now.  It was too bad there would be no one to cheer for them when they finally reached the finish line.  But to Mimi’s surprise, when she got within view of the finish line, she saw that hundreds of people were still waiting for them.  They started screaming and cheering when they saw Mimi and Alice.  “You can do it!  Stay in the race,” yelled one old woman.

 

Soon, everyone was chanting what the old woman had started.  “Keep up the pace!  Stay in the race!”  This chant did not stop until Mimi and Alice proudly stepped over the finish line.  Mimi hugged Alice and both of them fell to the ground exhausted.

 

Alice was so happy, there were tears in her eyes.  “WE DID IT!” she shouted.  She leaned over and gave Mimi the biggest, longest hug ever!

 

Mimi’s heart swelled with love for Alice.  “You are a very brave little girl,” she said.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you have a handicap, because you DON’T.  If you can stay in a race and not give up and even help ME finish, you are stronger than anyone in that crowd!”

 

Alice smiled.  “Thanks, Mimi – for reminding me to keep in the race and for coming with me.  It was such fun.  I’ll remember this race and I’ll remember you – forever!”

 

Mimi looked up to God.  Silently she thanked God for not answering her prayers because this was worth it all.  STAY IN THE RACE – You’ll get there!!