This is a story about my mom, Marie Gier. She is my hero, my inspiration and my hope….
Funny how things happen, really. One day, everything is just as it ever
was and then, the next day brings great change. This is a story about such
One Sunday in August of last year, our family and friends gathered
together for a memorial service for my brother’s mother-in-law. She had
died unexpectedly only days before. People who had not been together in
years joined that day in a celebration of her life. It was sad, but it was
As the ending of one chapter is almost always followed by the beginning
of a new one, it was appropriate that on that day one of those in
attendance would approach my mother with an idea. The idea was that my mom
should join the Team In Training program of the Leukemia and Lymphoma
Society with the goal of completing a 26.2 mile marathon. My mom had been
doing some running locally for a few years and what better way would there
be for her to affirm Life than to run and raise money for a good cause?
While my mom is 76 years old, she has always challenged herself and
defied the odds. Whether the task at hand was raising four children
single-handedly, graduating from the University of Florida at age 48, or
controlling 125 fraternity boys as their House Mother, she has overcome
every obstacle with zeal. So, naturally, when she asked me what I thought
about her training for and completing the "holy grail" of distance running,
I said, "Sure, why not!." Little did I know that the opportunity for her do
so would be so close at hand.
As if on cue, on Monday, a postcard arrived from the Leukemia and
Lymphoma Society inviting us to an Information Meeting that was scheduled
for the very next day! So, on one Sunday, the idea is planted, the next day
the postcard comes and then the very next day we find ourselves at the
Holiday Inn signing up for the Disney Marathon!! Incredible, but true!
At first there were some doubts. Mom wondered whether she would be able
to raise the money that the Society asked her to raise. She wondered
whether she had time in her schedule to set aside for training (Did I
mention that she’s an avid traveler, a tournament Scrabble player and an
active member of the Red Hat Society?). The one thing that she never
wondered about was whether she would be able to complete the race.
My mom never does anything half way. When the Team In Training folks
said that she should mail out 100 letters asking friends, family and
acquaintances for contributions, she mailed out 125. When the Team said
that she should raise a certain amount of money by a certain date, she
raised more, sooner. When they said that she should follow a training
schedule, she did the schedule, and a little bit more for "cushion."
Needless to say, my mom raised well more than the minimum required by
the Team In Training program. She trained at least as much as they
recommended. She was at least as ready as they told her she should be. And
all along the way, she was supported by a great group of coaches,
volunteers and fellow participants who only wanted to see her succeed.
Fast-forward to one more Sunday.
It’s January 9, 2005. It’s 3 in the morning. There are 25 of us all
huddled together in the Epcot parking lot eagerly anticipating the start of
the Walt Disney Marathon. We’ve trained together, fund-raised together and
gotten here together. But it’s just each one of us now, and the road ahead.
After what seems like an eternity, the race begins!
Mom starts out strong. The training has paid off. She knows her pace and
listens to her body. She takes the first few miles slowly, letting the
pavement call her forward. After a little while, after warming up, she
starts to command the road and bring the course to her. She is feeling
All that the coaches have taught her about hydration and refueling comes
into play now. She feels strong. The miles seem to float past. Her time is
spent encouraging others along the course and thanking the volunteers.
Sure, it’s a little warm, but it’s a beautiful day for "a walk in the
Now the miles are adding up, mom has been at this for quite some time,
we’re at the 15, 16, 17 mile mark. Now the race is all in her head. If she
believes that she can do it, she will do it. And she does believe.
Miles 20 and 21 go by. It’s hard, but, what in life worth having isn’t?
Her legs cramp, she shakes them out, her toes burn, she ignores them.
Miles 22, 23 & 24 drag on, but her pace doesn’t slow, she knows that the
end is "just around the corner" and that "she's looking good." She's gone
too far to slow down now.
Mile 25 passes. Her legs are numb, but her spirit is alive.
Mile 26!! The end is in sight! As she rounds the final turn, she looks
into the stands at the finish line to see her two oldest sons cheering her
on, and just a little bit further ahead, a close friend and two of her
grandchildren wait to congratulate her on her achievement! She knows, too,
that all those who have supported her are there with her at the finish line
in spirit, if not in person.
Through it all, my mom remembers why she’s here, to help raise money for
people who suffer from blood related cancers, to show others that one
person can make a difference and to offer support to all the other
wonderful people who give of themselves in thankless ways everyday.
It's funny really, how things work out. One Sunday, you’re thinking
about the loss of a loved one, thinking about the times you’ve had. Another
Sunday comes and you realize how much you still have and how much you still
have to give.
My mom shows me every day how to be the person that I wish I could be.
She shows me how to live the life I wish I could live.
When I run, I think of my mom.
One Sunday, I’ll be like her.