Monday's are our one shared day off each week, so they usually involve errands, chores and relaxing. I'd gone a short bike ride that morning. That afternoon I was surfing the internet as Michael got home from an appointment. Up flashed the news, Robin Williams was dead.
I was confused, sad and numb. It became compounded as I learned Robin had taken his own life. There was no shelf in my mind for reconciling such massive creativity, quick-wit and caring nature being snuffed out.
Rewind to me at age ten...
Laughter was a large currency in my family. We weren't rich, but we were rich in spirit and laughter. Among my spirited family came an appreciation of Saturday Night Live, Steve Martin and Richard Pryor albums (yes, albums). This was in an era before cables 100's of channels. This was before the internet.
Enter Robin Williams.
Even as a ten-year old, I could appreciate that here was someone who thought faster than any of the very finest studied comedians. Was some of this drug-fueled? At the time, yes. But damn, his stand-up act was amazing. He was nick-named, the hummingbird. Pre-internet, pre-cable, he was the king of all of entertainment.
In third grade I wanted to be Robin Williams. Part of that was wanting to be Mork from Ork. I remember lining the inside of my school desk to look like a rocket ship panel out of construction paper. I had a Robin Williams poster on the back of my door. In the dark days of confused hormones of early adolescence, I remember looking to his kind-natured face and wanting rescue.
In short, he was a key influence leading me to that first school play. The result, by age fourteen I wanted to be a Stage Manager. The deal was sealed.
July 27, 2003
|Michael July 27, 2003|
Michael and I rode the loop around Crater Lake with our friend Amy. We didn't know it would be our last bicycle ride together. Six days later he would be struck by a car while riding and enter the fraternity of spinal cord injury survivors. We were and are fortunate to have a huge support network of friends, colleagues and family to support us to a new life on wheels.
Our friend Jeremy tuned us into Challenged Athlete's Foundation (CAF) and the great work they do supporting adaptive athletics. CAF holds events and gives grants to adaptive athletes for prosthetics, equipment and travel fees in order to keep an active lifestyle. CAF has become key in the growth of Paralympic Sport.
Re-enter Robin Williams.
Starting in the 1990's, before such things were en vogue, Robin Williams supported Challenged Athletes Foundation. Video
In 2012 Michael and I chose to raise money for CAF as part of my participation in Ironman Arizona. Their moto for this form of fund raising is, 'Race for a Reason'. Amen. I've had the privilege of being able to push my body along side some of CAF's athletes at Ironman Arizona. Rudy Garcia-Tolson and Sarah Reinertsen among a few.
In 2014 I had taken my foot off the gas as far as racing. I was more interested in adventure events such as running R2R at the Grand Canyon. But the tremor of Robin Williams' passing stuck with me. As much as I'd endured with Michael's accident and the changes that brought upon us, this news was somehow a filter for loss. I was challenged to understand how someone so creative and generous could take their own life. I am still challenged to understand how someone could feel so powerless and lonely.
For many miles of running I tried to understand the un-understandable.
As a result, I decided to team together with some of my fine friends and dedicate our 2015 race season to raising money for CAF. If you can't change it and you can't fix it, you might as well do some good. We came up with the team name, Robin's Wingmen.
If you've read this far, thank you. Here is a link to our team fundraising page. If you and I could meet on the street, would you buy me coffee? Well, spend that $ on CAF.