Monday, October 11, 2010

A Day of Celebration and Thanks

This past Saturday was the 33rd Annual Brigg's and Al's Run Walk for Children's Hospital here in Milwaukee. It was also the third annual gathering of Team Maddie Boombaladdie for the event, and it was wonderful.

A few years ago, while Little was in the Pediatric ICU following one of her surgeries, Hubby and I were walking back from the cafeteria to Little's room, where we were planning to stay the night (which is a whole blog post of its own...Hubby slept sitting upright in a wooden rocking chair...seriously) when something on the wall grabbed my attention. Hanging in a frame outside the PICU was a newspaper clipping from 1977 of the very first Al's Run for Children's Hospital, a fundraiser that was started by the, then, basketball coach from Marquette University, Al McGuire. I don't know what, but something about that article, that picture of 10 thousand people running through the streets of downtown Milwaukee called to me, and it was at that moment that Team Maddie Boombaladdie first my head anyway. It wouldn't be until about a month later, when Little was out of the hospital and thriving, and I was bursting at the seams with appreciation, that I would actually sign us up for the event and begin sending out my emails of plea for everyone on the planet to join us in giving thanks. The first year we had 10 wonderful, brave, giving souls on our team. The second we had 30! And this year we had 25 supportive, eager, wonderful, generous souls walking the 3 miles at our side, honoring our very special, strong, amazing Little and her awe inspiring team of doctors and nurses (can't forget the nurses!).

To say that the event makes me emotional is an understatement. There's the tear inducing appreciation I have for our team members who give from their pockets and piggy banks and sacrifice a Saturday morning to come and walk with us, some from hours away. There's my drop-to-my-knees-and-thank-Jesus appreciation to Children's Hospital and it's staff for saving my precious, wonderful Little girl, and giving us every single minute of these last 2-1/2 years to watch her grow and change. There's the sorrow and heart wrenching bit of reality that slaps you in the face when you walk amongst tens of thousands of people, all there to support a place that dedicates itself to sick and injured children...some in memory of..and the deep, overwhelming sense of gratitude that we aren't one of those teams. The whole experience is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but one that leaves you changed for the better.

So this year, the veterans that we are, we stormed those streets together...talking and laughing and appreciating (and sweating *ahem*)...and when it was over, we did something new. We all headed to Grandma's for a first annual Team Maddie Boombaladdie after-party of appreciation. Children played and danced and giggled, and ate macaroni and cheese and candy. Adults ate Grandma's awesome chili and drank various amounts of alcohol, and we all feasted upon a sinful array of dessert bars provided by my friend Kara, who works for the best local bakery. And when it was time to go home, smiles were abundant, jokes had been told, children had been oooh'd and ahhhh'd over, and our mission had been accomplished. There will not be another year without an after party.

After our guests had departed, Hubby and I bathed the girls at Grandmas, and put them in Grandpa's t-shirts for pajamas (which happen to make the best, silliest little girl nightgowns by the way) and plopped them half asleep in the car after the sun had already kissed the sky goodnight. They were both asleep by the time we arrived home (10 minutes later) so we gingerly scooped them up in our arms and took them inside, tucking them in a little tighter and kissing them goodnight with a little more appreciation than ever before, and as we walked out of their room and closed the door behind us, we closed the book on this year's Team Maddie Boombaladdie walk for Children's Hospital.

The countdown to next year has already begun.

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