By Randi Crawford
I don’t even know where to start. Four years ago, I received a call from a friend, whose dear friend needed our help. Her daughter had gone jogging and wasn’t home at her usual time and, within minutes, her family knew something was terribly wrong. My friend asked if I would help to put up flyers around Poway to look for Chelsea King and so I jumped right on it. I remember how the community immediately sprang into action and people from all over San Diego were there to help.
My friend told me that Brent King would never stop fighting for his daughter until the day he died. While I believed her then, I never would have believed what that family has accomplished in the four short years since that tragic day when a monster took her life. They established “Finish Chelsea’s Run” to literally finish the run that Chelsea never got to finish herself. From what I understand, they were expecting 100 people to show up for that first race. Instead, they were showered with 3,500 people the very first year.
I’m not a runner, and I definitely don’t like getting up at the crack of dawn. But this year my daughter convinced me to register us for Chelsea’s Run because it really meant a lot to her. It rained all week and the weather channel said, “100 precipitation Saturday”... it didn’t say “chance” because 100 percent means there is no chance. This was going to be a wet, and cold race, but I still committed to my daughter and agreed that we would go unless there was thunder and lightning. (You know I prayed for thunder and lightning, right?)
My sister and her daughter ran with us, which made the experience incredibly special. And then the most magical thing happened. My alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. and there was no rain. I thought I must have still been sleeping because it had to be raining, but there was none. So I prayed for it to just hold off a little more, at least until the end of the race, chugged two cups of coffee, and headed out the door.
When we arrived, it was gorgeous outside. The sun was shining, the skies were blue, and it hit me harder than I had imagined. The only way to explain it is that you just felt Chelsea’s presence all around. It was an intensely emotional experience. The next thing that bowls you over is the magnitude of people. They announced that it was close to 10,000 supporters this year, and again a flood of emotions took over my body.
While we were lining up for the run, Brent King started talking, and he told us to “Jump in all the puddles because that’s what Chelsea would have done,” and by now the swell of emotion was enormous. I wish that I could better describe the feeling that takes over your body, because it’s almost an out-of-body experience. You just want to hug every single person that you see running alongside you.
When I looked around, there were so many smiling faces, young and old, teams, groups, schools, and volunteers, and it was so uplifting, knowing that you’re all there for the same reason. While I was running, a teenage boy put his hand out to give me a “high-five” just because, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. My sister knew some of the volunteers and it made me so proud of all the kids, who inspired us and cheered us on along the way.
I may stink at running, and my legs almost fell off my body, but I can honestly say that experience was one of the best days ever. And to all my doubters, there were no paddy wagons carting me to the finish line, I got there all on my own. We have an amazing community and it was a huge honor to be a part of something so special.
May God bless the families of Amber Dubois and Chelsea King, and I hope to see you next year at Finish Chelsea’s Run, I’ll be there with sunflowers in my hair.
What say you? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.