Ok, Just One More Year

Ok, Just One More Year

I blinked and all of a sudden it is 2017! What a ride. Life has had many ups and downs and twists and turns. My little boy is now a boy of 16. He was only 2yrs old when we decided to start spreading the word about Shwachman Diamond Syndrome.

I decided to let you in on my psyche, and see how it really does take a village & a little bit of craziness in order to put together a 5K Charity run. It may not be the same experience that you have had but, I ask that you keep in mind I have a slightly sarcastic, dry sense of humor. I wanted to share it with you all because without you, my family and I could not have done it for 14 yrs. This will be the final 5K Shwachman Diamond Dash for a Cure. Hope to see you all one last time June 17, 2017. Happy Running and Happy Reading.

Date: End of Summer of 2002
Ring…Ring… (That’s a telephone ring)
GLIRC: “Greater Long Island Running Club, can I help you?”
Me: “Uh, yes can I speak with Mike Polansky please?”
GLIRC: “Sure, hold on a minute.”
Mike: “This is Mike Polansky. Can I help you?”
Me: “Oh….Hi. My name is Jennifer Kolar. I have a 2 yr old with Shwachman Diamond Syndrome. My family and I want to raise monies for research and so we were wondering if you could show us how to organize a 5K run?”
Mike: “Well, it would probably be better if you came in to talk about it first. It is a process. We can talk about it and then you can decide if you still want to do so.”
Me: (totally clueless): “Sure. Sometime this week ok?”
… and so this is how it began.

Mike was kind enough to sit down with my sister in law, Krissy, and me to explain in detail how to organize a run. He explained in detail what goes into organizing a 5K. He pointed out that although 5Ks do bring about awareness, they usually don’t raise as much money as one would think. Especially in relation to all the time and energy that you need to put into it in order for it to be successful. He must have noticed our reactions and heard our defeated sighs because he quickly followed up with the fact that there were other ways to raise monies for research. Quicker, easier and less time consuming ways.

Alas, we did not heed his subliminal warning. Instead, we said thanks and we will be in touch.

My family and I soon got to work. I am fortunate enough to have a large supportive family. I am in no way bragging but am letting you all know that I “get it”. I just count my blessings as they come.

And so… I thought it might be fun to give some unsolicited advice to those who may be interested in organizing a 5K. This essay has a lot of what not to dos. I feel that if I can help one person avoid the mistakes that we have made in the past, then I did a good thing. “Pay it Forward” (Love this motto).

We were told that 1st time races usually start out small. So we hired a timer who understood this was our first time.

The day of race came. The timer was late. They got there at beginning of registration with the registration forms and bibs. People were waiting in line to register. (I thought that they forgot about our event, even though we saw him the night before. INSECURITY, kicked in big time).

We ran out of bibs!!! Embarrassing from the point of view of “The People Who Organized a 5k Charity Event” a.k.a “Race Director”. (Race Director? I didn’t know what a Race Director was until year 3). But inside our heads we were like…”Holy cow. People came!”

We were exhausted and it was going to be a One and Done type event, but we got such positive feedback that we said….O.K., just one more year.

So, the next year we were ready. More people helped us out. The event occurred with more participants. Stress level was just as high as the first year. Dylan hid from Sunny the Duck for most of the event.

Let me explain. I had decided to pick up Sunny the day before the race as opposed to the morning of, in order to save some time. The costume was laid out on my living room couch. I suppose that a duck, with big black eyes, whose head was adjacent to his body as opposed to on top, may frighten a 3 yr old. I came to this conclusion due to the fact Dylan would not come downstairs the entire day. I finally moved the costume to my car in the hopes Dylan would feel better and less afraid. I was wrong. He was up the entire night, which meant that I was up the entire night and so my little ray of sunshine was a bit cranky that day. Here I am trying to raise awareness for my sweet boy and there he was hiding and when he finally came out he was in no mood. So I faked smiled and Dylan sincerely pouted for the rest of the day. (There’s the sarcasm I talked about.)

I thought.. ok. This was it. Final race. But people were so kind and encouraging again. O.K. just one more year.

Then there was the year that a very kind sponsor donated 16 oz water bottles with their logo on it. The sponsor came our way through someone who knew someone, who heard about Dylan and kindly reached out to us. We didn’t have to worry about water for the runners. Yay! They had asked that we pin up their banner near the finish line.

So morning of race we are running around like lunatics setting up cones, signs, parking signs, and no parking signs, tables, etc. My mother in law and I each grab one end of the 12 ft banner. I had begun to hang one end just as she began to hang the other end. Now, it was kind of strange, but we both looked up at each other at exactly the same time almost in slow motion. A look of horror, then shock, and then “Duh”, soon followed by nervous giggles. What were we thinking? Our sponsor had been a funeral home. Our race was for a rare bone marrow failure syndrome in which there is no known cure. Needless to say the banner never made it up. Thankfully the water bottles were not the reusable kind and so, we were grateful for a very hot day. They were pretty much all used up.

Ok, won’t make that mistake next year. Did I say next year? O.K. just one more year.

There was the year in which a weight loss support group asked to use our race as a sort of motivation for their members to challenge themselves in a new way. It was an awesome year. So very inspirational. The members were amazing. Every one of them completed the race. Many were very excited to have completed their first 5k. Our race was their first and therefore, unforgettable right? And so we prepared for next years race with regards to our t -shirt orders. Guess what? The support group must have done their job because…we had a lot of shirts left over.

Ok, just one more year.

Then there was the year where the school janitor would not open all of the bathrooms that we had a permit for. He flat out refused to open them. I was freaking out. We only had 3 port-o-potties (with air freshener and wipes of course). My hands were tied. I felt terrible for the runners. The lines were long. The anxiety levels high.

Note to self: Order 6 port-o-potties for next year’s race. That’s right next year’s. (sarcasm kicking in).

We had a timer for a couple of years who had us, race directors, meet with him the night before to put tags on the runners bibs. The night before the race is so hectic with last minute stuff that I couldn’t understand why we were the ones doing this job in addition to everything else. (Head scratch and yawn cuz I’m tired of gluing the tags onto the bibs ).

We had the year where the town never brought the road barriers. We again, were scrambling. People were so kind to offer their cars to use as barricades. Thank you.

Note to self again: NEXT YEAR… call the town continuously until the barriers are in front of us.

We had the one race where some random person completely ignored the fact that there were signs telling them road closed and that there were rows of 700-800 people along with spectators in the middle of the road. The starter gun went off. The person continued to drive straight toward the crowd. Noooo!!!!!!! Like 10 people jumped in front of the car and veered him to the side of the road until the runners passed. (Did that really just happen?!?).

Then there was the time that we ran out of safety pins. The fun runners had their own bibs. I remember having to stop all of these adorable kids 3 minutes before their race in order to take 2 of the 4 safety pins and give them to the 5K participants. People saw me scrambling again and offered to help. Thank you. All 5K participants received their bib pins and the fun runners had enough to hold up theirs.

We had the time that the fun runners were running a route marked out, but someone, trying to help had redirected them another way and so we had kids running through the finish line forwards, backwards and sideways. The kids were smiling while the parents & I had looks of confusion. But everyone got their ribbons and lollypops. I ADORE my fun runners.

We also had times where sponsors kindly donated special waters, iced teas, protein bars, bagels, oranges etc. It was a beautiful set up. But….then we would see a couple of people who were taking advantage of these gifts by filling their runners bags to the brim with these items. Come on people…. Remember??? This is for Charity.

Fast forward to the last few years. Dylan is getting older. Questions and teenage life is just getting harder to handle. The transition from childhood to teenager is difficult for everybody. But… with Dylan, it feels a little more complex to me. And so, this will be the last 5K Shwachman Diamond Dash For a Cure. We will continue to find ways to raise monies for research in other ways. I will miss cheering you all on at the 3 mile mark. Remember to pick it up for the last .10 to go. We thank you all for all of your patience and support over the years. Please don’t forget that we still don’t have a cure for Shwachman Diamond Syndrome but we will continue to support research to find one. One more thing… PLEASE DO NOT FORGET….

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia

Most Sincerely,
Jennifer Kolar
(Dylan’s Mom)