Dear Jack

June 1st, 2016

Steve Mitzel

Dear Jack,

My legs hurt so bad. I have nothing left in me to go forward, but I know I can’t stop. People are screaming and yelling for me to run harder, but all I want to do is stop. How can I continue? Pain like I have never experienced encompasses every inch of my body. I start to think of those that can’t run like I am right now. They are either too sick. Or they have lost their battle. I dig in deeper mentally and physically than I ever have, to run for them. I run because I can. I run to make a difference.

Copy of Steve Marathon

Twelve years ago I gave myself up for the cause. I gave myself up for you. For people like you, Jack, that were fighting cancer, survived cancer or had lost their battle to cancer. To me it was a simple and selfless act. I became a marathon runner with an inspiration to one day end cancer.

Along my journey, I have met so many amazing people and I have been inspired by so many more. Coach Lloyd Carr of the University of Michigan inspired me to run NYC and raise $25,000 for his Coach Carr Cancer Fund at the University of Michigan. I did that! And along the way I raised nearly $120,000 for him through an amazing team. Who would’ve ever thought that Coach’s own grandson, Chad Carr, would be diagnosed at four years old with DIPG.

Chad’s story was amazing, Jack. He is the toughest human you will ever hear about. He fought and fought with passion that is unknown to most of us. So many rallied around Chad’s fight. Unfortunately, Chad lost his fight last November at 5 years old. I cried as I hugged Chad’s mom, his grandpa and put a sticker on his coffin because he was too young to lose the battle. I know it was Chad that drove me to run those last five miles of the Boston Marathon this past year. I am certain that Chad made my legs go forward when I couldn’t to finish.
Then there’s your friend, Andrew. What can I say about Andrew McMahon that hasn’t been said before? He has become one of my biggest fans and supporters as I run to defeat cancer.

Andrew’s story and music is one of my biggest inspirations when I lace up my shoes to go run. He gave me the gift of working with the foundation as well as the gift of Abby Fessler. Abby fought hard like Chad and lost her battle last year. Abby too was with me in those last five miles.

Then there was the day that I received a call from my other brother in 2009. We’ve all had that call the one that goes “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I have cancer”. Rob battled head and neck cancer for over a year. Surgeries, radiation and chemo. Fortunately, I have my brother here to still hug. Rob has been with me the last five miles when I wanted to quit.

Angie, Kelly, Marcie, Matt, Frankie, Jesse, Dan, Peg, Bill are amongst the hundreds that I have run for that were also with me those last five miles.

I suppose we all inevitably face the last five miles. We will hurt and won’t want to carry on. Wouldn’t it be great though, Jack, if it wasn’t because of cancer? I have run over 14,000 miles and 15 marathons and been able to raise nearly $300,000 to help the cancer cause. I run because I can. I recently was telling my team at work about running for a cause. And I put it this simply – if you can run a mile, you can run 3 miles, if you can run 3 miles you can run 5 miles and you can run 5 miles you can run a marathon. Most importantly, if you can run a marathon you can make a difference.

We are all still here reading this and Jack, I am telling you, if I could make one plea – it’s simple. Put yourself out there. Hurt. Hurt because you can. Run because you can. Feel the pain and realize it’s so amazing to be alive. Make a difference in this world. Pick a cause, a passion and a fight and go make a difference. Because you can.

Jack, a very wise and passionate once man has many a times inspired me along those 14,000 miles I have run by singing:

You gotta swim
And swim when it hurts
The whole world is watching
You haven’t come this far
To fall off the earth
The currents will pull you
Away from your love
Just keep your head above

I’ll see you at the finish line, Jack.


Author: Steve Mitzel: DJF Board Member and long time supporter

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