Running for Ben

Sometimes things in life line up in a way that make you think it’s just more than a coincidence. I truly believe in signs – like the day I met my brother’s childhood hero Ryne Sandberg – it just happened to be on the anniversary of his death. I believe these occurrences are an opportunity to share the present with those who have passed and their way of saying, “I’m still with you!”

In the first few years after my brother died I found comfort in raising money for the brain tumor foundation through running my first 2 marathons. Running has always been a deep ingrained part of me, much as my memory of my brother is and has always been a huge part of what shapes who I am.

So when a Facebook post came across my feed shared by Wolfson’s Childrens Hospital regarding an upcoming 5K raising funds for for the National Brain Tumor Society I saved it to my page. It’s been over 5 years since I have been able to run a race, but now that my kids are getting older I have been exercising more consistently and considering getting back into road races again.

The link for the race saved on my Facebook page. I checked back still considering signing up. I would have to race with the kids in the stroller, which over the past 4 years has unfortunately had to become an extra extension of my own body while running through the neighborhood.

But as I mentioned before, sometimes signs just can’t be ignored.

Even though brain tumor awareness month is May, the race is November 3rd. November is my brothers birth month, on the 21st. This year will be 20 years since he has been gone, and would have been his 40th birthday.

“I hear you Ben and I am signing up for this race!!”

So on November 3rd, Lil John and Clara in tow, we will be racing through downtown Jacksonville in memory of my brother Ben. The suggested goal is $500 to raise funds for the National Brain Tumor Society, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to funding research for better treatments and ultimately a cure for brain tumors.

I completely understand that there are a million different organizations to give your money to, and not everyone has the money to give, but I was hoping that each person who knew and loved Ben would be able to give $10 or $20 in his memory and we would be able to raise a good amount.

A quick and favorite story about Ben:

Ben being my closest sibling in age I always tried to get him to play with me. One day when we were probably about 7 and 9 I begged and begged him to play Barbies with me. Of course he didn’t want to but being the good big brother he was he finally gave in and agreed to play Ken. I decided that we would pretend that Barbie and Ken were on a cruise ship going on a glamorous honeymoon of their dreams together. Ben immediately had Ken jump overboard. I didn’t think it was funny at the time but it cracks me up now all the time when I am reminded of it.

Thank you so very much. Writing this has got the tears flowing and now I am ready to lace up my shoes!

 – Mary Slover

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