July 1, 2009. Three years ago Sunday. A day I’ll never forget. A day that changed my life forever.
It was a day I uploaded a small website. Operationjack.org. I announced my plans to the world that day (well, to whoever was listening) that I was going to try to run 60 marathons in 2010 to raise money for Train 4 Autism in honor of my little guy Jack. Train 4 Autism sent out an email blast, I got rolling on Twitter and started getting feedback. There was no turning back!
An idea that had started months and months prior as a brainstorming session with some of my friends and advanced to a conversation with my wife had suddenly become public. I had no clue what I was going to do. I still don’t. I was just rolling forward with faith that everything would work out. And that’s what I’m still doing.
My plan was to spend six months telling people what I was going to do, then run 60 marathons as hard as I could in 2010 to raise money and awareness for Train 4 Autism, then crawl back into my hole. I had no idea how it was going to happen. I just had faith that somehow, it would. Those first six months were incredibly frustrating. In hindsight, it’s not surprising. I was trying to raise money and awareness and I hadn’t done anything other than sprain an ankle and spend five weeks not running. Who would contribute to that?
I wanted to quit several times in the second half of 2009. The money wasn’t coming in. I thought I was going to waste a year of my life and bring my family down. I had problems with my job (I’ve worked full-time through this whole adventure). But I kept moving forward. I felt like that’s what I was supposed to do. I had no plan. I still don’t. But through Operation Jack and associated events, we’ve grossed more than $140,000 so far. I guess it’s working.
I ended up running 61 marathons and an extra ultra in 2010. I got it done, gave it my all and ran my body into the ground. That was the plan, and for me, it was worth it. If I could sacrifice my body to make sure my son Jack made an impact on the world, it would be worth it. I don’t know a lot about the tangible difference he’s made, but I know we’ve helped people in many different places. I know that some good has come out of the bad he goes through every day.
From a selfish, individual standpoint, it’s been an amazing ride. I’ve seen lots of places I wouldn’t have seen, met lots of people I wouldn’t have met, lived through experiences that wouldn’t have happened and made new friends I’m grateful to have. But it hasn’t been easy.
I try my best to let my faith get me through, to know that I’ll be OK and I just need to do my best to try to fight forward the right way and do what I can. I feel incredibly blessed to have been on this ride the past three years. It’s frequently frustrating. I see other people having more success trying to raise money doing things that I consider to be less difficult than what I did, and I won’t lie — I get jealous. I’m human, definitely not perfect. Operation Jack means a lot to me and I want to raise as much money as I can.
Sometimes, I feel like I’m wasting my time trying to keep it alive. Just last night I was asking a friend of mine if Operation Jack is dead. I know my time has passed, that 2010 was my year and it’s gone. But I wonder if I can still do anything to have an impact. And if so, how?
I have a couple of ideas that I’ll write about later this week. For now, I’m just scratching my head in amazement that it’s been three years since I first gave this a shot. July 1, 2009. I had no idea how my life would change that day. Three years and I still have no idea what I’m doing. I have no idea where I’m going. But it’s been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m grateful I’ve been put in a position to have a chance to make a difference.
You’ve been along for at least part of this. So, thank you for your support. Thank you for caring, if even just a little. Thank you for helping me help Jack make an impact on the world. As his dad, I couldn’t hope for anything more.