Recently, I’ve been asking myself some tough questions and digging deep to find the answers. Why am I here? What was I put on this Earth to do? What is my purpose in life? These introspective questions and my search for their answers is something I have been spending an inordinate amount of time thinking about. Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity and closing the door on another year; perhaps it’s a soul searching effort to remind myself that while I’ve had many experiences in my 33 years, there’s still more to do, see, and explore.
And then something happened.
“Dear Kristin Zielinski,
This e-mail is to let you know that I am delighted that you will be joining Achilles International and New York Road Runners as a volunteer guide alongside an athlete with disabilities in this year’s ING New York City Marathon.”
The world is a very funny place.
I was nearly in tears when I found out the news two days ago. Up until that point I honestly thought it wouldn’t happen and if it did, I wasn’t sure what I would do. Do I say yes and run a marathon, not just any marathon but THE New York City Marathon, somewhat undertrained? Or, do I say no, feel regretful and wonder if I’ll ever have the opportunity to do this again?
I made the right decision.
You see, it’s not about me. This is about helping someone through one of the biggest milestones in their life. A marathon truly is a milestone and an unforgettable experience. Even more, this is about helping someone who may have been told time and again they can’t do it, they’re not able to do it, just because of a disability. That’s hogwash. With determination and will, you have the right to experience the thrill and anxiety of the start line and the exuberance of the finish regardless of ability, disability, or anything else – and you can. I am excited to make that happen for someone else and in NYC nonetheless. While I have not received information on who I will be paired up with just yet, I have requested to guide someone who is blind.
Why someone without sight? Well, because I myself was born without sight in my left eye. This hasn’t hindered me much and if I never said anything, no one would know. If anything it has given me a strength I will tap into on November 3rd for my athlete.
So when I say that I would regret it if I passed up this opportunity and instead try to grasp the words to describe every emotion coursing through my veins, I’m not overexaggerating. I truly believe that my purpose is to help others who may need a little assistance and this setting couldn’t be any more perfect.
With that said, I’m not sure where this journey will take me but I am confident that I am a good fit although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous and anxious. Yes, I have limited sight of my own but that’s something I’ve dealt with from birth and have adapted to quite well and I don’t see it being a hindrance. As a matter of fact, I think it’s somewhat of an asset because I have an innate ability to think a little quicker and act to correct any missteps.
I plan to document this experience as much as possible given that so many of you have had questions on the process, how race day comes together, and the logistics of guiding a disabled athlete. I hope to provide insight and answer any questions you have (about guiding or even my own limited vision) so please ask away. I hope you will follow me through race day!