Kevin Larsen (A version of this story originally appeared in the Evergreen Times)
A foe is extinguished.
Love contained the power to conquer.
Something sacred called hope was everywhere in the wind and air.
All believed in the unbelievable and joyfully shook hands with ambassadors of cancer soldiers and doctor fighters who donned their running shirt and number to participate in the grand event.
The race, built on positive thinking, permeated and enveloped the entire space with hope at Hellyer Park on Sunday, October 14th. The traditional ten foot arch of carefully patterned blue and red balloons again became the annual portal of the starting and finishing line.
The ritual of early arrival allowed everyone to meet at nearby picnic tables and converse about the successful individual battle plans which combat the fight against cancer that so many are associated with who were in attendance. The fight brought all together so that even if it was not a topic of conversation it really was. Walls of sickness were torn down by the non-tangible power of love. Hundreds of people with their blue race shirts and hand written entrance number placards placed on their stomachs walked the grounds not in any real hurry to go to the starting line but instead to simply sojourn to catch up on community conversation and well-being.
Healthy snacks were once again brought forth and neatly displayed on tables through help from volunteers, often in their teens. Fresh bananas, big juicy award winning fat apples, carefully crafted hand-made packages of trail mix were all geometrically displayed in neat rows and classifications. Just looking at it was beautiful for it was a take-what-you-wish and serve yourself affair. Other food items too were offered and everyone knew that after the race would come the ice cream, which would be set out in multiples of clear plastic cups for all. Other tables would display large open boxes of take and go fresh sweet white topped cream cupcakes provided by Nothing Bundt Cakes on Aborn road.
While talk was often about cancer, laughter was heard too with grins and smiles about those winning the secret battle with many victories to revel in. New research and breakthroughs were spoken of which brought light to the darkness and truth to the understanding. Everyone knew that right here at the Omar Dream Run, cancer is banned forever and conquered with the validated proof of the survivors tales who stroll amongst the gathering and speak unabashedly with their open straight forward remarks of their full remission proclamations in each coveted word of truth.
The battle force
Educational Centers, scientists, doctors, parents children and others carefully created this front-line against cancer. Part of the plan is to always connect children and adults to their friends and classmates whenever anyone should go into the depths of treatment needed in a hospital setting. Chemotherapy and common colds can be a problem. Often the separation of school becomes a fact of life for the individual. Some are moved to hospitals to live for periods of time during treatment.Omar teaches us today
The flagship of the movement is the Omar's Dream Foundation Non-Profit Organization.
Omar was diagnosed with leukemia when he was two years old. His parents worked tirelessly to give him the best. When he was in the fourth grade he needed a bone marrow transplant and went from Evergreen School District to live at the Stanford Medical Hospital. Fourth grade teacher Melody Sutton and Omar's parents created a way to help Omar and his classmates communicate and stay together while also teaching Omar with the group. "We just had to find a way to make this happen," said Sutton. They set up a computer at the hospital and began talking to each other by Skype. Each day, Omar crossed the void and entered the classroom through the internet. For Omar, the process was a priority where learning and friendship took center stage. It was kindly stated that he sometimes adamantly told nurses, "you got to come back later, we're doing math." Sutton is on the board of the Omar's Dream Non-Profit Organization and states, "We are here to honor his memory and make his dreams come true."
Omar, teachers, parents, nurses, doctors, hospitals and many others pioneered a new way of allowing all to continue in school and be with their classmates instead of being pulled away to the isolated private world of hospital tutoring. The organization grows each year to gift connectivity. Now six hospitals help hundreds of children and adults continue education in this unique way. Omar led the way and figured out how to transcend learning beyond the white walls of a hospital room with tubes and equipment at arms grasp combined with frequent injections and gloved tests. Omar used his indomitable spirit to show the world that he and others could take control and reposition things so that one never had to leave school for even if a person is to stay in the hospital with "doctor's orders," the internet could capture and connect laughter and learning in real time to battle back cancer and give hope to energize each traveling patient.
Miracle Girl with clean bloodstream
A lovely vibrant dynamic 12 year old actually had trouble not smiling when one spoke to her. Her joy was infectious. Each year, she makes time to come to the Omar Dream Run and offer her services of DJ-ing the music. She's a miracle of modern day medicine, and quick to say that the power of prayer played an important role to her health too."I like coming here each year," she stated as she DJ'ed the event with her father near. "Each year people keep running to fight cancer!" When asked about her story she says, "When I was four I was diagnosed with leukemia. I kept fighting and praying and luckily after three or four years, I survived. Two or three years ago I was finally told I am in remission. This means your blood is checked to make sure nothing is going on and you don't have cancer any more. My mom and dad prayed a lot for what was to happen and those in the local church prayed for me too, so I got prayer from all."
Thanks mom and dad
She continued, "I think when my mom and dad found out that I was out of remission with no sign of cancer in my body, they were very happy and proud I was able to go forward. I love my mom and dad and my sister and I am glad I got prayers from them. I'm glad they are here today too at the Omar's Dream Run."
Welcome to the world of cancer
"She's an inspiration and that is why our journey continues. There is hope. Look at this photo," said her proud father as he used the screen of the computer to back up and share his statement with coveted pictures of their journey. "They gave our daughter a doll and the hair came off of it. The reason for this was to show her it was OK and that it is what happens under chemotherapy, hair comes off. My wife and I did not really know what to do, it was like we were thrown into a new world. Welcome to the world of cancer, was the new place we were in. We knew we were in a battle to save the life of our child. They, the doctors, could not tell us why, could not tell us the reasons why a little girl comes to have cancer."
We never gave up
Dad continued, "four years seemed like an eternity. At first, it seemed way out of reach but the four years of treatment went by real quick. Now we are looking forward and just not looking back anymore."
Stanford Children's Hospital "a class act
"The proud father of the 12 year old continued and spoke of their experience in the children's hospital. "It was something out of heaven. They were like angels. It was a blessing to have that kind of atmosphere, professional, supportive program from the very beginning. We were going through this very harsh problem but they made it smoother for us."
Doctors just don't know why children and adults are afflicted with cancer
That day, 12 year old miracle girl unabashedly went to others and shared her individual uplifting story of hope. You see, miracles do happen, they do you know. Goosebumps were felt by many as the survivor helped others facing the battle. Parents who began the same itinerary in years past, who knew the path, also helped everyone on their individual roads to remission by mapping out the journey and others the lay of the land so to speak. Victorious examples of gallant fighting and survival were present at the event as walking miracles spoke to all about their personal individual journeys.
Omar's Dream Run belongs to you
Supervisor Dave Cortese and his wife were present and have supported the event since its inception. He stated to the crowd before the race began, "This is the way to do it. We need to just continue year after year." With momentum building, Omar's Dream is blossoming and expanding to more people. Mayor Liccardo also spoke and stated that he had insights about the issues of cancer regarding people he knew and that the event and organization is terribly important. He said, "In times of suffering we need each other and we need to be connected." It was explained that Omar's Dream has come true and it is a loving legacy.
One mom holding a baby said with bright eyes and conviction of faith, "we are taught that kids are born pure and considered angels. God tests those that are nearest to him."
Another woman gently stated, "there is no small miracle."
Additional Note: Omar's Dream Foundation enables hospitalized and medically supervised children to remotely attend school allowing them to stay connected to their teachers and classmates. Their services are free for all qualified students and their educators. To see Omar's teacher and classroom and to hear testimonials and breakthroughs in research go to Omar's Dream Foundation web site. Donations are welcomed and needed to expand the program.