The Little Rock Marathon is this weekend. I was supposed to participate for the third time this year: one year in the 5k; this would be my second year to run in the 4-man relay. I don’t have my stamina back for that. I’m disappointed I’ll just be a spectator, but I’ll be there for a bit. Each year I have been a member of Team Chelsey.
Chelsey Koffler was in a fatal car accident in November 2007. She’s the younger sister of my dear friend, Molly. Chelsey and I got to know each other when I helped out with Molly’s surprise 30th birthday party. I loved her instantly. Allegedly, Molly’s husband Ken was also helping with the party, but since Chelsey and Ken fought like brother and sister (when they weren’t hugging each other), I just talked to Chelsey and laughed until I cried at her antics. I admired that she’d graduated from college and moved away to a city where she knew no one, and had started to build a life all by herself. She was a firecracker. Her red hair set off perfectly her personality. It was devastating for her family to lose her so young.
Death like hers leaves everyone around feeling helpless. There’s nothing to say or do that will make it better. You just have to stand there and watch people who you love like family, suffer. Some of Molly’s co-workers decided since there was nothing to actually do about the situation, they would do SOMETHING: so Fat Ass to 5k .
…as is human nature in these situations, we all tried to find a way in which we could help our grieving friend and her family…thus Team Chelsey was born.
We got t-shirts, ran in the 5k, or in some cases (mine), walked and chatted and never broke a sweat. Some people actually ran the full marathon – they are show offs. Afterward, we went to Ken & Molly’s for brunch. We laughed and talked about Chelsey and the race and just had a good day. Molly said later she and her mom, Cathy, thought that would be the end of it. But it meant so much to all of us, we asked them to do it again the next year. That’s the year I ran in the relay marathon. My part was a 10k. I had never run that far before in my life. It was a huge personal achievement for me and a wonderful day spent with friends.
This year, there was no asking, Team Chelsey is our tradition. Each year, we’ve raised a little money for a scholarship fund set up in Chelsey’s name. Each year, we get to spend time reminding our friends we know they haven’t forgotten her, and we haven’t either. It’s a really special day for all of us, for different reasons. I like that Monkey Boy goes and celebrates the life of woman he didn’t know. I’d like for him some day to understand all the love that came before him and will go on after him. I’m grateful this day reminds me how precious life is, to tell people I love them and laugh as much as possible.
I wish I could say I thought of such a great tradition. I like to take credit for really good ideas. I’m merely a participant in something bigger than myself. I’m part of Team Chelsey.