There is something about a man dressed as Super Mario, replete with cart, hobbling over a finish line seven hours after he started a marathon that warms our hearts. Winners are inspirational, but those that don’t win? By definition, that’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of empathy. We’ve all got the underdog gene.
I wrote a post last year about Marathon race day. This year was much the same. I trained less, weighed more and hurt more, but all the good stuff was still that good.
We managed to raise over 40% more money for the RLSB this year. That’s the only victory to worry about, really. Although I have to admit that by Mile 13, after hitting steady 10 minute miles to that point, I thought a Personal Best might be, surprisingly, on the cards. Alas, no! The wall I hit and scaled last year simply collapsed on me this time around. It was hell on a stick…physically and emotionally, I was done for.
I have never, sober, experienced such a gap between the instructions my mind issued and my body’s subsequent response.
I felt my skeleton…I mean I actually felt it, like all the muscles had been removed, leaving me with a skin and energy gel metabolism. I was the human equivalent of a discarded chicken thigh.
It is considerably more important to focus on the motivation for running and the Royal London Society for Blind People. As so many friends, colleagues and connections donated to the cause, I wanted to share why the charity is so important.
The RLSB nursery sums up a lot of what the charity is about. There are a few things that stand out to me about this valuable service:
1. The staff.
They are very talented, patient, professional people. The skills they have take teaching to another level. Not only do they have the specific skills to help visually impaired toddlers figure out the world around them, they also have the interpersonal skills to help the whole family. Maggie Bindon, who runs the nursery, has been working there for over 27 years. That kind of experience and dedication is priceless.
2. The children.
There are kids at the nursery from all walks of life and with all kinds of stories. Children who’s own parents are visually impaired, children with other conditions as well as VI to contend with, children that have had to fight for their lives. They are all seamlessly cared for and supported by the nursery and the RLSB.
3. The parents.
The parents all find a way of getting their kids to a small farm building in the Kent countryside to attend the nursery – trains, buses, taxis, cars…the lot. They are a devoted, dedicated and grounded bunch who have overcome adversity in all shapes and sizes to provide stability and encouragement for their children and each other.
4. The only show in town.
Logistics play a part in RLSB nursery life simply because it’s one of a kind. There aren’t a raft of places to choose from when trying to get your toddler specialist care in a nursery environment. For people in the Southern Home Counties, it’s the only show in town. And its rarity makes it all the more precious. A real gem.
This gem is what, in part, your donations have helped to support. The RLSB is not a big charity and your money makes a difference.
Sam, my wife, toasted my completion of the Marathon yesterday (thanks, Sid!) and in doing so recounted a story of a couple that visited the nursery last week. They have a baby who is visually impaired. She made a comment about the look on their faces. A ‘lost at sea’ look that every parent within the RLSB community will know. What she knew was that the washed out, washed-upness would pass in time. She knew that because those parents were in the right place to find the right help. A safe harbor in very stormy weather.
When you knock on the RLSB door for the first time, you feel like the doggiest underdog in town. But they have a 175 year track record of overcoming that underdog feeling and all that can transpire from it if left unsupported.
To provide that help, your donations are essential and the fact that so many of you dug deep to support the Marathon event is a great, great thing.
On behalf of everyone at the RLSB I would like to thank everyone that has contributed to my 3.5K total this year.
It has been fun taking you on this 2015 trip!
A little insight into RLSB nursery life for you below: