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Challenge: Your Special Traditions

Special Needs Bring Special Traditions

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Growing up, Thanksgiving was all about the feast! I loved waking up to the sweet and savory smells already floating from the kitchen, knowing I would indulge in the lazy pace of a day filled with food. The more butter and sugar, the better! But when our second daughter arrived with a rare genetic disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) that would essentially leave her in a constant state of hunger, the holiday changed for me forever. What happens when the feast doesn’t satisfy? I’ll tell you…you look for abundance outside the dinner table and find traditions that fulfill in ways you may have otherwise missed.


For us, it has meant co-hosting a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot with another Denver family whose child is also impacted by PWS. Rachael, who came up with the idea, was a mom desperate to raise awareness and fund research, but mostly she wanted her son to experience a tradition outside of the feast. Almost all of us spend the day either in the kitchen or at the table, but our Harvesting Hope race broadens our borders. It takes us out of our homes and connects us to neighbors, friends, and a cause bigger than ourselves. It puts the focus back on gratitude and the many ways we can give back.


When others are waking up before dawn to get the meal started, Rachael and I are already setting up tents and salting sidewalks. We are counting down the minutes to see the miracle unfold that has been months in the making. We get to witness the excitement on a kid’s face when a firefighter hands him a medal for finishing his first fun run. We get to see the ways runners of all ages and abilities cheer one another on as they make their way down the final stretch. We marvel at the generosity of our donors and the selflessness of our volunteers, and we are blown away by the sheer number of people who keep showing up, growing the event beyond our wildest dreams year after year. It is no longer a community of runners and families. It is our village. And because of them, we see hope.


I hope that the research this race funds will someday allow my five-year-old to experience the feeling of fullness after a Thanksgiving meal (or any meal for that matter), but I know that in the meantime, it is providing her a way to see that living life fully doesn’t refer to food at all. At the end of the day, it is about connection and generosity and the joy that comes when we walk (or run) alongside one another on this journey of life with grateful hearts and open arms. For that, I am so thankful…next Thursday and all year long.


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