Running for 1.5 Million

Running for 1.5 Million

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler spreads her energy and humor as a regular contributor to the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Daughter No. 2 arrived at my home to pick up Jacob (her son) for tennis. Our home is the last stop on his carpool route, a place to relax, have snacks and play board games with Savta (me). This is convenient because his zaide is the carpool chauffeur.

While we are waiting for Jacob to complete a highly technical, critically important game on the computer, we conversed, mostly about this and that. “This” was about mother-daughter conversations called connecting, but “that” turned out to be the Daffodil Dash.

I had no idea to what she was referring. The Daffodil Dash? What is that, Amie? I listened with curiosity, then with an eagerness. The race for 1.5 million, in memory of the children of the Holocaust and supporting children in Darfur, South Sudan and Rwanda.

I became aware of an extra heartbeat — a heartbeat filled with an emerging sense of sadness and responsibility.

I am a runner in the loosest sense of the word. I run every day — mostly in the early morning, sometimes in the evening. You can generally find Ari (my rescue dog) and me running in our neighborhood. By the way, this activity is a great way to get a peek at what the neighbors are up to.

I don’t run anywhere else. I don’t run for shirts. I am not interested in running races. I don’t run competitively, and I’ve no idea about, nor do I care to know, my times. In the grand scheme of things, who cares?

But the Daffodil Dash rocked me. I heard myself asking her questions like who is running. Is there an entrance fee, and how much is it? Do you have to run the whole 5K? Are there any walkers? Is it too late to participate? Those were precursors to the big question: Can I participate with you? Do I need a number?

Turns out she did not realize her contribution was for five runners. With only four in her family, it was beshert (meant to be) I should be the fifth.

What a magnificent Sunday morning April 3, as if the gods of spring looked down on us thinking, “This will be the reward for all those mitzvah makers at the Daffodil Dash.” Families pushing strollers, little children, bigger kids, lots of teens from various schools, grownups, puppies, a couple of huge dogs, all dashing for daffodils.

As if the sounds of laughter, chatter, barking, and the huffing and puffing of runners were not enough, the Tevyeh Party Express band played for hours, ensuring that our energy level and enthusiasm stayed at 150 percent.

Given that the organizers are of South African/Jewish decent, there was food galore, gifts, prizes and warm smiles as grateful acknowledgment of our participation. It felt like a giant family affair.

I pinned my number to my white jacket, hoping the little holes the safety pins made would not be evident when I removed the pins. I happen to love this jacket. Not too heavy, not too light, and the coolest design element is the intentional hole at the end of the sleeve for your thumb. Why this design is so popular I honestly couldn’t tell you; however, I can say I feel I am part of the in crowd when I look down and there is my thumb in all its glory.

My grandson, one of the seven male grandchildren I get to call all kinds of nicknames, ran the 5K in record time. I will not list all their nicknames, but sometimes Jacob becomes J-Rod, J-Man, Jacobi, Jacob Jonathan and Yahky (a derivative of his Hebrew name, Yaakov).

My sweet granddaughter, one of three female grandchildren I also get to call all kinds of love names, ran with her friend Noa, going an extra mile just for the fun of it. Lila answers to Buzhmeister, Buzhie, Lilabean, Lila Naomi, or P’nina, her Hebrew name, a gift from my mom (z”l). Don’t even try to make sense of all this; the important point is their participation in this event.

My daughter Amie and I mostly power-walked — sometimes very powerfully, sometimes not.

We got lost! All I can say is thank goodness the entire dash was in Brook Run Park. There was a frightening moment when everyone was going left and we were going right. We surreptitiously turned and followed to the left. Neither of us is particularly a crowd follower, but in this case we felt it prudent to join the masses.

My son-in-law Joe approached the finish line with hardly a hair out of place, not out of breath or tired, ready for his next activity, golf.

Tevyeh’s music welcomed us at the finish line. So much food and drink to choose from. We took everything, dropping it all into the bags provided.

And then we heard it: the powerful voice of a survivor, with a powerful message.

Never forget the reason for the Daffodil Dash.

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