One Way to HelpPublished October 8, 2001 in The Post-Standard.
By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer
As the events of the past few weeks unfolded, word came from New York City that rescue workers needed another item in abundant supply in running households. Besides blood, which runners donated generously, rescuers were in dire need for clean T-shirts, which they changed every hour to remove sweat and dust.
I opened my closet and stared into the depths of my T-shirt collection. Fresh from a reorganization blitz, my shirts stood in neat piles, sorted by a complex matrix of function and emotion.
I looked at the stack of non-running T-shirts on the left-hand side of the top shelf. These included the souvenir shirts, gift shirts, or shirts that proclaimed support of various worthy causes. I wore these shirts when I painted, washed the car, or hauled firewood.
On the top right-hand side sat my polo shirts from special races or events. I wore them with my dress running shoes for special occasions - weddings, dinner parties, holidays.
Long-sleeve shirts that I brought home from cold-weather races hugged the upper back right-hand corner. These came from the longer distance races - half marathons and marathons. As winter approaches, this pile will move to the front of the closet.
On the top left-hand side, I kept shirts I brought home from local races. There was the shirt I wore the day I broke my foot, the shirt I won by placing in an age group, and the shirt I wore when I paced my running partner to her first victory. I tried to rotate shirts through this stack, but laundry protocol, habit, and a touch of superstition barely scratched the potential of this supply.
The left side of the bottom shelf was devoted entirely to shirts from my favorite local race, the Fourth of July 10-miler. Decorated in red and blue, this stack became my favorite lately. Next to it, there were multiple shirts from my volunteer efforts and shirts that I have never worn, and never will.
As I stared at my closet, I realized it was time to give away some of my memories, and to contribute much of my vast collection to the heroes risking their lives so that we may run free.
As we watch a new world unfold on television, and read in the newspapers and on the Internet of the courage of those people whose selfless giving dwarfs our material contributions, we continue to seek ways to support their efforts and preserve our freedom. In the days ahead, each of us will give something of ourselves. This promises to be a long race, one for which we have trained well. We know it will be painful, and some of us will not finish, but this time, we will all win.
Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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