The real heroes in Washington, D.C.

The true heroes on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Sunday were not at the White House, or at the other end of the street where Capitol Hill was quiet after months of contentious debate over everything from health care to financial reform.
The true heroes on that famed stretch of road in Freedom Plaza were not wearing suits, lobbying for votes, currying favor and they answered to no one except themselves and whatever higher power they trust.
The true heroes Sunday were the more than 12,000 runners, walkers, volunteers, sponsors, cancer survivors and all of the courageous families dealing with this insidious disease who joined together in a simply breathtaking display of compassion and drive to raise money and awareness for brain tumor research and, ultimately, a cure at the 13th Annual Race For Hope DC

My daughter, Cassidy, and I participated in the 5K run (she ran fast, I walked slow) and were inspired by others with just about every step we took.
I had decided earlier that morning that I would simply donate and cheer Cassidy on as she crossed the finish line, convinced that my surgically repaired knee would not be able to take the pounding.
So, despite being registered, I wore cargo shorts and looked like a typical tourist with my camera bag, two cell phones and an iPod weighing me down (as if I needed any extra weight).

David Cook and one of Sunday's heroes

Literally one minute before the start of the race, I looked over at just the sweetest looking little girl I have every set eyes on.
She was one of the faces of cancer — bald from chemotherapy, frail, gaunt and wearing a green scarf around a head strewn with surgical staples and stitches.
And she was smiling.
Faster than you can say filibuster, I pulled on my Race For Hope tee-shirt with bib No. 7613, tucked two bags of our gear inside a flower-pot on the side of the street (The Department of Homeland Security would not have been pleased), slung the bulky camera bag around my neck and started walking toward the Capitol.
Whenever my knee began to bark I’d look up to see someone wearing a shirt or button memorializing one of the millions of cancer victims the masses came to honor, thought about the unspeakable suffering they endured and kept moving until I ran across the finish line.
It was the absolute least I could do.
Never have I been so inspired.
Never have I been so driven.
Never have I been so grateful.
What an experience.
A special thank you to American Idol winner David Cook and his family, who lost David’s brother Adam to a brain tumor, for leading our more than 300-member team to a first-place fundraising total of $140,483.03.

Me and my hero

Please visit the Race For Hope DC web site and make a donation.

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11 Comments on “The real heroes in Washington, D.C.”

  1. Connie Says:

    Your accounting of the day brought tears to my eyes. Prayers to you and your hero.

  2. Mandy Says:

    What a wonderful blog. Thanks for writing and sharing your experience. This was my first year participating in the race and I am already looking forward to next year’s event. Never in my life have I felt more inspired than I did that day. I know that together we can continue to raise awareness for this horrific disease in the hopes of one day finding a cure.

  3. Jamie Says:

    I had the very same experience in San Francisco. Thanks for putting it into words for me.

  4. Janet Says:

    I love this! I went through a similar reaction last year, and its what got me through the race. Thank you for sharing, and I’ll bet we see you both next year!
    Janet – another David Cook team member

  5. Daina Says:

    Amazing blog! It sums up the feelings we all had yesterday. I was so honored to be a part of it. It was nice meeting you and seeing Cassidy again. She’s a great girl!

  6. Mary Says:

    John, I got to meet you and your lovely daughter at the Phil Marshall event the night before the race. This was beautifully written…and captured the spirit of the day. Hope to see you all there next year.

    • johnalbone Says:

      Thank you, Mary, and to all who have responded to the blog post. It was a very special weekend and I was proud to be there and to meet everyone. See everyone next year!

  7. Jed Weisberger Says:


    Your blog is not only good in its infancy, but has amazing potential.
    Exceptionaljon on the 5K – the writing, the feeling,the empathy.
    Who says sports is the only matter several of us can focus upon?
    Keep up the great work and spread your blog far and wide whenever you are in the mood.

    Jed Weisberger

    • Josh Says:

      Thank you for sharing what sounds like an incredible experience. Are you two planning to come to the event here in Philly next week?

  8. Jane Says:

    John, I also met you and your daughter Cassidy on Saturday night at the Phil Marshall event, and Cassidy sat at my table. She is a lovely young lady. and Your blog post about the Race was very touching. It encapsulated the feelings I had running in the Race, my first. Such inspiration and emotion from those Survivors. What a moving experience. I will be back next year, hope to see you and Cassidy again then.

  9. Jim Gauger Says:

    Doing for others is the best feeling one can have. Putting others first in a self-centered culture is an accomplishment in itself. Wonderful writing. Say hello to Kelly and Cassidy for me. Thank you.

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