By Rachel Hughes, Bariatric Coordinator, Foothills Weight Loss
This started as two of the sweetest, yet sassiest sisters around (Mary “Sue” West, 68 and Betty “BJ” Garner, 67) asking if they could do a 5k with me. I put my daughter Becca in charge of race research and after much discussion about it among our Maryville Bariatric Support Group, it was decided that Color Me Rad would be our best option since it was not timed, and most importantly, it was FUN.
With that decision, team “Rising Phoenix” was born. Joan Meissner (72) and her husband Paul joined the team. Joan needs a knee replacement, so walked the entire race with her cane in one hand and her husband’s hand in the other.
The last two members of our team were Joe Leslie (36) and his brother Michael. The brothers helped to bring our median age down a bit and they were wonderful motivation for everyone.
The morning of the race was very cold but we all met early to pose for a “before” picture. When we got there Sue showed up in a tutu and wig that she had made herself just for this occasion. She was like a celebrity, everyone stopped her to find out about her outfit and how to make the wig, she ate it up.
It was decided that no matter what we were going to cross that finish line together. So many people along the way spoke to our team and encouraged them to keep going when we told them our story. Joan asked a time or two if we were almost there but she NEVER once complained about a thing.
When we got to the final hill Joan needed to sit down on a bench. It was a really big hill to undertake and I told her “If you don’t want to do it, I’ll go get my car and come get you, there is no shame.” Jane was ademant about finishing the race. Joan probably never wants to hear me sing “Eye of The Tiger” ever again.
Joe and Michael finished the race early and came back to finish with the team. When we got to that finish line we got there together just as we planned. We’re a group of people that had all been through a similar experience in life as patients and as support people! We crossed that finish line and Joan’s cane went to the ground and I can honestly say that was one of the absolute best hugs of my entire life!