Today is the 179th day of the year! This fact may seem quite insignificant to you, as it would have to me not long ago. But as I sit here to write this … it makes me feel very happy.
Here is why. The number 179 is incredibly meaningful to a new and dear friend of mine, Andrea. It’s her lucky number, and one that has shown up in amazing ways in her life over the years. A wink from the universe, a reminder of a higher power and that everything happens for a reason.
A little over a month ago as I was walking into the Pilates studio I teach at, there was a woman standing outside my door waiting to speak with me. She introduced herself to me as Sandy, and told me that she was coming in to ask me some questions about Pilates. She told me that her daughter Andrea has ALS and is also an endurance athlete, having completed a Half Ironman race not long before she was diagnosed just over three years ago at the age of 33. For those of you not familiar with this disease, it is described best on Andrea’s web site:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (aka ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a progressive neurological disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. When motor neurons that connect nerves and muscles die, people lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement. Without stimulation, muscles become weak and atrophy. Most people with ALS become totally paralyzed as they lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, swallow, and breathe.
Andrea has made it her mission to share her story and to raise awareness and funds for research to find a cure for ALS by creating a foundation called Team Drea. Friends and family members and others from all over the world have raised money for Team Drea by participating in something she loves and that changed her life – endurance sports!
Andrea has also been doing Pilates-based physical therapy for the last several months, and it has helped her in amazing ways. Sandy wondered if maybe I could help, too.
From that very instant my heart was cracked open and all I could feel inside me was a resounding YES. Whatever that meant and whatever that would look like, I would be open and I would be in.
There is SO much that I want to share with you about Andrea and about the amazing things she is doing (you won’t believe it! – she is incredible) and about my experience getting to know and working with her and Sandy. I can’t possibly write it all in one sitting … but I would like to journal about it here as it all unfolds. I hope that her story, and my story in working with her, will inspire you and remind you to live each moment of your own life with joy and gratitude. To be thankful for all that is good, for all that you can do, and for all of the love that is within and around you.
Over the last several weeks, I have spent time with both Andrea and Sandy and have learned so much from them, not only about the body and this disease, but also about the power of love and of connection and of the human spirit. I spent an afternoon learning from Andrea’s other Pilates teacher, Mischa, and last week I began working with Andrea and Sandy in my studio, teaching them side by side. It is a magnificent honor to be a part of their journey, to be a part of this team of amazing people.
I am so very, very grateful.
I have decided on my fall race, the RDC Half Marathon in Durham, NC. I am going to run this race for Team Drea, and am going to be fundraising (more on this once I have it set up!) and am so excited! Andrea is also going to do the race – the FULL marathon! – on her recumbent trike, and the two of us talked today about doing some training runs/rides together over the next few months. It is going to be pretty awesome and we are going to have a lot of fun.
I hope you will visit the Team Drea web site and Andrea’s blog to read more about her story, and about the incredible work she is doing. It will make your heart swell at least 179,000 times bigger and will inspire you in countless ways, I am sure. I also think you will love reading about the awesome significance of 179 in Andrea’s life, and how it became even more powerful since her diagnosis and helped shape her mission and creation of Team Drea – so check out this article from Endurance Mag!