“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
― Francis of Assisi
For most people signing up for a marathon, 5k, 10k or even popular adventure themed races can seem like a challenge. Imagine facing that challenge while living with Muscular Dystrophy (MD). Fear, self-doubt and even pain are all reasons to give up. I had so many reasons to gloss over fundraiser invitations, to ignore invites and forget about competing in any type of athletic events all together. That would be too easy. After coming to terms with where I was physically and emotionally I decided enough was enough. No one wins by shrinking back in the face of a challenge and neither would I. It was time for me to not just endure the process of being diagnosed with MD, but to fight back by taking the initiative to learn everything I could about this condition and what resources were out there waiting for someone like me (and you) to find. That resource for me is the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). As I began to dig deeper into the information and organization, I started to receive referrals from my community and my doctors to get connected with MDA and that’s exactly what I did.
Just a few weeks ago, I completed my second annual MDA Walk at Boston Commons. Having completed the first walk as both a speaker and ribbon cutter in the year prior surrounded by my family from near and far, I knew that this year would be even more special. The walk was full of activities for families, booths, vendors, plenty of food and loads of fun. Participating in this walk wasn’t just about bragging rights, it was about bringing awareness, raising funding and connecting with people all over my state and the country who may face the same or similar struggles I face. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met. Friends I’ve made or opportunities I have received because of the support system and resources taking part in the walk and joining this organization have brought me. I was able to raise 1,500 dollars for the organization but what I have gained over the last two years has far exceeded any dollar amount.
What blew me away the most this year was the overflow of love and support I received from family and friends who showed up and showed out by wearing my Girls Chronically Rock t-shirts(grab yours here) and making my participation in the walk possible by safely transporting my scooter (I couldn’t have completed the walk without it). If I didn’t have the help of my family and the friends I’ve made through my journey with MD, I wouldn’t have made it this far, and I’m here to let you know that you don’t have to travel this road alone.
As the Massachusetts State Ambassador for MDA, if you’re thinking about participating or getting connected with an organization that can possibly help you cope with whatever chronic illness you may face, take the first step! Take a deep breath, look yourself in the mirror and remind that beautiful face staring back at you, “you are not alone. You are worth the effort. There are hundreds of people like me who are looking for answers.”
Don’t let fear get in the way of connecting with new people who are going through the same or similar situation. There are so many new connections and relationships out there waiting for you on the other side of having a chronic illness. Living a meaningful and fulfilling life with MD is more than possible.
Whether you link up with a local organization, find the courage to finally come to terms with whatever you may be battling or if you just need to know that you’re not alone on this journey, I’m here to tell you again…TAKE THAT FIRST STEP!
I remember what it was like to be diagnosed, to be in denial and to not want to deal with what was happening to my body, but guess what? I didn’t let MD get in the way of living a purpose-filled and impact-focused life.
So talk with your doctor and sign up for that walk. Join the local organization that specializes in providing resources for what you need, and don’t be afraid to share your journey along the way. It started with a registration form, but walking into my purpose could only have been done by taking the first step.
What step will you take today?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.