Raising Funds And Preserving Memories

By Chris Lavin & Gina Garcia

MISSION TRAILS PARK – The health challenges of youth are weighed on a different scale –one that knows the fragility of young life, the great potential at stake, the immense love that stretches out for so many decades to come.

Words don’t work on this subject – so profound are the feelings, so unfair the losses, so appreciative are those for whom the doctor’s touch works. All beyond words. Truly unspeakable.

So in this culture we use deeds – a gathering of friends, a ritual walk through the countryside to say thanks for doctors who helped children and to support the research that will give them tools to help even more.

This week’s Rady Children’s Hospital fundraising event, Max and Jake’s Big Race, began Sunday in the crisp cool morning. Ice on windshields. Snow on mountains.

The overnight rain had turned desert trails into bogs. Where a stream usually trickled, a river now ran, covering crossing stones, making falls a constant threat.

Still, there were no complaints. If ever there was a group of people who knew what true obstacles are, this was it – young survivors and ever-mourning families. A few stretches, a song and then off into the sun-drenched muck they went as the last vestiges of a morning fog burned off.

There were large groups and small families. There was a six month old riding quietly in a backpack. A septuagenarian, a grandmother, walking for a grandson no longer here, but very much here in spirit.

Team Ryan Burkhardt raised the most money. Team McKinley Racers brought 52 people with them.
But even among the runners, this morning was not about competition. Memory is, in some ways, the kindest and cruelest of human traits.

Children grow and their lives become as complex as our own. Those who leave us early stay frozen in time, fading amid the new children that followed, being lost in the details of our own aging.

The composer Stephen Sondheim once wrote these words for a father, singing of a daughter lost: “And though I’ll think of you, I guess, until the day I die/I think I miss you less and less as every day goes by.’’

And this is why we gather to stop time and remember, quietly and in every detail. To recall with a walk -- not talk -- with friends the fragility of life, and the great gifts that, even those who were with us briefly, gave.

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Tags: In Memory of Ryan, Max and Jakes's Big Race, Rady Children's Heart Institute


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Comment by Karen Pearlman on February 28, 2011 at 12:49pm
<3 Beautiful tribute, La Mesa Today.
Comment by Laurie Burkhardt on February 27, 2011 at 2:24pm
Thank you Chris and Gina for this special gift of rememberance and honor for our Ryan.  You guys are truely wonderful part of our extended family. Love you, The Burkhardt's

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