on the path…running for a cause


Who would’ve thought that yours truly would get a kick out of running? Let alone excercise in general.

It started like this. The first week of September I found myself thinking about signing up for the L.A. Marathon. Within 2 or 3 days my landlord, Zellda, put a flier by the door to my room. The flier was just a little blurb about how the APLA will train someone like me, a cat with little running experience, to participate in the 2008 L.A. Marathon. All I have to do is commit to a fund raising goal of $1500 for the APLA.

They provide support services for people living with AIDS where the medical treatment leaves off. These services come in the form of counseling, meals, & rides for Doctor appointments, etc.

After a short information session and registration process; I now have a running coach, a running group, and a fund raising coach. Ah memories of fund raising. It’s been a while since I sold barrels of cheese door to door to raise money for Band Camp. I think the APLA serves a broader purpose; helping people who are unable to afford certain services for those who really need it.

It’s strange in a way because I’ve only known one person who’s had AIDS. His name was Michael. He lived in my dormitory my first year at USM in 1986. I remember very little about Michael other than that he would play this record called, “Tarzan Boy,” really loud with his door open. Also, I remember he had painted his dorm walls “mauve” with a sponge. It was the first time I had ever even heard the word, “mauve.” His dorm room looked like a Florida hotel lobby.

One day I saw Michael packing his things and asked him where he was going, and all he would say is, “I have to go home.” I noticed all these dark lesions on his face, and he was really, really thin. I asked him if he was going to come back next semester but his only response was silence. I thought it was really weird to bail on school being so close to graduation. I found out later, albeit through heresay, and cafeteria talk, he was going home to take care of his disease. His HIV had turned into full blown AIDS. I was unable to really confirm it, but I know he never came back to USM.

Other people I am training with know people personally; family members & long time friends, living with the disease.

At this point, I lose words, I’m unable to know or relate very well. All I can do is show kindness, compassion, and continue to run.

Beyond the cause, I do have a personal motive of breaking down what I perceive to be, ‘life’ barriers. I make up false boundaries to hold myself back, usually out of fear. Right now the metaphor I’m using to address this is ‘running a marathon.’

My progress so far?

I’ve been training 5 weeks. I have a group run on Saturdays and two maintenance runs on Tuesday and Thursday. Wednesday’s I do a five mile hike in the morning before work. That’s my training schedule. As of last Saturday it’s gotten me up to running 8 miles. Next week I’ll run 10.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress and how to contact the APLA on my behalf for those of you who would like to make a contribution.

Thanks for checking in.

Stephen A. Thomas

One Response to “on the path…running for a cause”

  1. Linda Says:

    I’m proud of you. Let’s discuss running sometime.


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