This Year, I'm Taking Uncle Bill to Mardi Gras

I was about 6.  The giant ferris wheel at the Bay Beach Sanctuary in Green Bay, Wisconsin loomed before me.
Now, this next part you will NEVER believe.

I was petrified.

I have attempted 3 marathons, over a dozen triathlons and dozens more road races.  I was a public speaking ace in college.  I ride motorcycles. I work three jobs.  I am the last person anyone would expect to be terrified of a ferris wheel.

But I was.

That is, until Uncle Bill got involved.  Uncle Bill convinced me that getting on thay ferris wheel was EXACTLY what I needed to do. And I wasn't buying it, especially as we rounded that first seemingly endless drop and my stomach fell somewhere down around my toes.

And then the unthinkable happened.

WE STOPPED AT THE TOP.

Convinced I was facing certain death, I clutched Uncle Bill's hand with an iron grip. Then, as the steel terror machine creaked into inevitable motion, he giggled and looked at me, and I will never forget what he said. 
In the voice of a toddler watching fireworks for the first time, Uncle Bill pointed at the breathtaking view and cooed, "Ooooh! AAAAAHHHH!"

I burst into laughter. I haven't met a ferris wheel or roller coaster I didn't love since that day.

My mom's older brother, one of many uncles, was a kid trapped in an adult body. No one had a bad time around Uncle Bill. Everything made him smile.

Which is the extraordinary part. You see, Uncle Bill fought many battles in his life. Korea. Alcoholism.  Fatherhood. The economy.

Lung cancer was the only one he didn't beat.

I am forever in debt to this man. It is because of him that I see tasks which are daunting and even terrifying as challenges, and, more importantly, opportunities to HAVE FUN.

And so, it seems only fitting that I undertake a fundraising effort in his honor as I, also a cancer survivor, embark upon a journey to complete my 3rd marathon. For I would never be here without him.  And I cannot think of anyone who would have more fun in New Orleans with me. Because, although he may not, his spirit of fun, fearlessness and enthusiasm for life live on.

I will be raising funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society at the Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 13, 2011.

I hope you'll join me and Uncle Bill in any way you can.

Love,
MAJ

1 tidbits of wizdom:

Molly said...

Sounds like the ideal tribute!!! :-)

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