Or, “OMG I’m running my first 5K and here’s how you can help”
Like all good things (…), it started on Facebook. The algorithm that sometimes brings strangers into our news feeds brought me this post, "The Gift of Urgency," on a Monday morning three weeks ago and, for some reason, I clicked.
Erin, the blog’s author, was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s at a very young age. I don’t know her, but the subject hits close to home. It hits at home, actually, to someone I know pretty well.
My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s more than 15 years ago.
A lot of you have met her, but if you haven’t, I’ve got to tell you that she’s a pretty exceptional human being. She’s the executive director of a nonprofit; a dedicated wife; and a beyond-standout mom who, among other things since her diagnosis, planned and led two 120-person choir trips to Europe, road tripped at all hours to be with me through health crises, and led the charge of moving my sister and me in and out of dorm rooms, sorority houses and apartments (I think she’d do it single-handedly if we let her). She’s strong, smart, kind and generally a force to be reckoned with. The fact that she is living with Parkinson’s does anything but define her but it’s a reality nonetheless.
When I read that Erin’s first order of business was to create a fundraising team for Dam to Dam, a 20K/5K in Des Moines, I knew in an instant that I was going to join that team and fundraise with her. Hilarious, because I’ve never been a runner. I was that kid that faked sick in elementary school to get out of running the mile. I was the power center defender in soccer and the towering post in basketball, both of which afforded me as little running as possible. So…yes, clearly I am going to run 3.1 miles.
In her blog, Erin says, “My wish for my friends and family who are reading this is that you will be as lucky as I am, to have the opportunity to face something that tests your limits and makes you realize how small you truly are in this world. Something that pushes you to move forward faster and stronger than you ever have before.”
Parkinson’s has been a passion for my family since my mom’s diagnosis many years ago. And Erin’s blog reminded me that there’s still work to be done, and if I can, I should, even if I never have before. So training for a 5K becomes much easier when I remember that June 1 is a lot bigger than the run itself.
Here’s where you come in: I set a fundraising goal of $1000 (but I’m hoping to exceed that!) and I would love the support of my friends in any way you’re comfortable contributing. Giving on the MJFF website is super easy and so is the link to donate: http://j.mp/hollyformjff.
Whether you think of this as a “Run, Holly, Run!” fund or a way to support my mom or someone in your life with Parkinson’s, I truly thank you.
While the back booths, each spacious and fitted with an outlet and a lamp, are the coveted spots, I prefer to sit in the front. That’s where the action happens: the deft movements of the baristas, the shrill sounds of the steamer, the meetings and greetings of people who come and go from Mars Cafe just as often as I do. Some of them I know personally — the Des Moines renovator from whom I took the mayorship; the filmmaker, professor and dad; the community leader and music man; my urban environmental history professor who constantly asks if I’m paying rent on the place yet; a sorority sister who was smart enough to find this gem as a freshman; the Iowa Public Radio producer — and some of them I only recognize by face.
Jameson has taken to ringing me up before I place my order and Daniel asks, “No cosmo today?” if I purchase anything besides my usual. My bank account is depleted and the caffeine doesn’t affect me until I have a raging headache in its absence. My car and the inside of my backpack and all my bras smell like that strange, not-just-coffee but distinctly Mars after-smell that I’ve abandoned trying to get rid of.
I go to Mars when I need to write. I go with company and I go when I tire of my company and want to be by myself. But I choose to go there to be “by myself” because I’m never really alone; I’m with baristas and strangers who have started to feel like friends in a shop that makes this town feel a little bit more urban and a lot like a place I now call home. I used to go because it reminded me of Chicago; now I go because it is connects me to the people that I want to know and aspire to be in this city. For me, it is quintessential Des Moines.
I lost the mayorship today after a two-month run. It’s not a big deal, really, although the virtual crown fit really nicely on my avatar. I wrote the above about a month and a half ago and had it waiting in the wings for the day I lost the title. For people who don’t know Foursquare, don’t know Mars Cafe, or don’t know either (the worst fucking combination there is) this won’t make sense. But between October 12 and December 19, Mars Cafe and the unspoken perks of being mayor have propelled my life in so many ways.
I can assume that when I return to Mars in January that the baristas will still know my name and my order; Matt and Larry will still stop by my table to talk when they’ve got a second; I will still sit for hours in my favorite banquette when the opportunity allows; I will still have the contacts as a past mayor as I did being the mayor for life in Des Moines, life after Drake and life as an urban planner; and Amedeo will still share tables with me, unless his second round of mayorship has gone to his head. (It hasn’t. He put it best when he said, “Without it we wouldn’t know each other, which means more to me than the title.”)
Mars has been more than a coffee shop for me. It is for all of us that are there just about every day. It will continue to be more than a coffee shop even without my virtual crown. I’m fairly certain that the only thing that will change is that you’ll see his face when you check in instead of mine. Amedeo’s face is fine; we’ll all survive.