Living in the Joys of Today

November 23, 2014 0 By Donna Wuerch

Upon leaving the inspiring and encouraging time with friends and family at the Homegoing Celebration for my Honey on Friday, November 19th, 2010, I knew it was time to turn the page for a new chapter in my life. With our children and grandchildren at my side, we would go home and continue the celebration by more reminiscing about the life of my Honey. BUT, WAIT!!!! I just remembered, and I exclaimed, “We need to go to the Tulsa Convention Center to pick up our marathon bibs and numbers. It’s right on the way home.” We would all be running in the Tulsa Route 66 Marathon on Sunday, the 21st. Originally, we all had planned this day to show my Honey how much we honored him and we were going to move OUR legs FOR him, since he could no longer move his. Now, it would be in appreciation for a life well lived, and to show our gratitude for being able to move our legs. I will never take “being on the move” for granted again.

So, here was the Wuerch Family — all eleven of us, dressed in our Sunday best — rather Funeral best — from the youngest to the oldest (ME) — at the Convention Center! We stood out in the crowd of those in their athletic or comfy attire. But here we were — still celebrating the life of my Honey. We were void of sorrow and grief. Folks there would exclaim, “You are all so dressed up. You look so nice. Where have you been?” None of us had the heart to tell them….”a funeral”, and I certainly didn’t have the heart to tell them, or even to put on the face of “a grieving widow” — because, I wasn’t. Holding my youngest grandson’s hand and my granddaughter’s hand, I felt so free — even to the point that I felt a little guilty about this place of peace I was in. For over eleven months, I was locked into my Sweetheart’s physical journey to healing. I didn’t get the time to run or play with our grandchildren. Today, I skipped, jumped and laughed with them. I could only think about how much my Honey would want this for us. He would want us to be celebrating. He was passionate about instilling this into our lives — the optimism, the faith, and the “abundant life” that faith in Christ gives us.

Sunday morning, over 25 of us showed up at the Route 66 Marathon, all with our red “Run for Ron” t-shirts on. It felt so good to be so unified. This would be “Five marathons in 55 days” that our son, Ryan, a marathon runner anyway, would run today — this time, however, in honor of his dad. He wore his red “Run for Ron” t-shirt, and started out his 26.2 miles run at 7:30 a.m. Our oldest grandson, Braden, ran the half-marathon (13.1 miles). The rest of us started out on our 5K run/walk at 8:00 a.m. It was so exhilarating to see our group — from 15 months old to my 62 years old “Running for Ron”. I knew he would be so proud of us all. Not many of the rest of us are runners, but it brought such joy to see the solidarity of our group — running/walking with such passion — so appreciative we could.

Once we completed our 5K, we rushed to the Finish Line to cheer for Braden, our 17-year old grandson who ran the half marathon in his personal best time ever. He told me that he felt his Papa pushing him all the

way. When we went to meet up with Ryan at Mile 16 to cheer him on, we waited and waited, and thought we may have missed him, but in reality, we were at the right place at the right time, as Drew — a member of our church saw us, stopped a moment to pull out a large photo of my husband. He was also “Running for Ron”. Perfect timing to meet up with him.

Then we headed to Mile 20 in hopes to meet up with Ryan, then we got the call….a man had passed out just in front of Ryan. What marathon runners don’t do, is stop running mid-way through a marathon as it seizes up their legs, but Ryan stopped to help him. When it was apparent he was unconscious, Ryan held his feet and prayed while others were performing CPR on the man for over 16 minutes. He stayed with the man until the ambulance took him away. Later we would find out the 27-year old man passed away during that time. We knew, again, “the right place at the right time” as we knew divine orchestration took place — even perhaps that my Honey was there to meet that young man when he went to the other side. Later, we would cheer for Ryan as he crossed the Finish Line — not his best time because of the delay — but God’s best time, because he responded to “the call” of God to be there for one of His kids.

Afterwards, I was interviewed by the Tulsa World newspaper reporter about our “Run 4 Ron”. As an exclamation point to our efforts, that article ran in the paper the next day. I’ll finish with letting you read this article. To God be the glory and praise and thanksgiving. The first picture below is our family in our “Funeral best” and the next one is the Tulsa World’s photo of us. The following words are the caption with the picture and the next section is the article.

“The ‘Run for Ron’ Family takes a moment for a group photo at the finish line of the Williams Route 66 Marathon. The family had many members run in various races to commemorate Ron Wuerch, who died Tuesday of cancer.”

“While many runners said the wind slowed down their times at the Route 66 Marathon on Sunday, one group found the wind to be anything but adversity. “We were giving thanks for everything in our life and the wind was like a fresh breath of air,” said Donna Wuerch, whose husband Ron passed away last week.

Wuerch’s daughter Staci, son Ryan and grandson Braden – who ran the marathon and half-marathon respectively – and a host of extended family members and friends, were decked out in ‘Run 4 Ron’ T-shirts.

“This is our way of saying, ‘thank you’ for our legs, our lungs,” Staci said. “Dad had a lot of issues due to cancer, and we just thought it was a nice way to honor him and thank God for our blessings in our life.”

Among those running for Ron Wuerch was 32-year-old Gracie Updyke, who pushed her 15-month old son Ryan in a stroller over the 5K run. Runners came from as far away as Canada to support the cause, Works of Mercy, and the Wuerch family.

By LYNN JACOBSEN World Sports Writer