Recently, calf injury healing, a 5K running race came calling.

A great way to start a Saturday work day; something happened between the race and the office.

The race, “Color Me Cured,” is a fundraiser for diabetes and the race director is Midcoast resident Sarah Polk. I remembered the race from last year as Sarah’s thank-you to participants was heartfelt and her personal story resonated; when a family member has a disease or is in an accident, the entire family is impacted.

With diabetes, that is especially true when diagnosed in the young. Medicine has come a long way since my childhood but the impact is still immense. For a young person, a gathering like this is often the first time they meet other kids and adults, like them, living with this, having full and rich lives.

The rain subsided before starting time with the field mostly walkers; runners wanting to be timed lined up in front. As a 10-minutes-a-mile elder, never do I expect to need to know the course; following others is the norm.

As this race started, one adult raced out with a pack of five or six following, pacing at about 10-minute miles. Coming into the first mile, a youngster named Brady raced up to me. We would run together for the rest of the race. Brady, with a finishing kick, beat me, placing second.

Brady had started walking the race but soon decided running was the way to go. We talked during the race and the finishing spurt was inspiring. I knew the struggle of what was perhaps Brady’s first 5K was tough, but nothing compared to daily challenges of diabetes. This 5K race seemed symbolic of those struggles; Brady got the prize for coming in second overall and first in the hearts of me and his family.

Then there was Sarah; while Brady was making a statement on the course, Sarah again rose up behind the scenes, thanking participants and family. Her kudos to her husband and mother were powerful; we don’t stand up enough to say “thank you” and “I love you” in front of a crowd.

And we should. That’s inspiration in its highest form.


There was this tidbit in email from “Mother Jones” recently called “After Yard-Shaming, Neighbors Pitch In.”

When Randa Ragland received a note from a neighbor, scolding her for not keeping up the outside of her rural Alabama home, she posted the note to Facebook. Ragland has a son, Jaxon, with stage 4 cancer and didn’t need this. She reached out to Facebook in an effort to let go, telling a CBS reporter, “I just didn’t have energy to be negative.”

The positive outpouring created a paradigm shift that saw the worst in neighbors replaced by the best in neighbors.

“Jaxen’s Army for Justice” began; a group of newly appointed warrior volunteers turned this sad story into one that can motivate us all to “do better.” “This is love for a stranger,” Joey Harding said about the experience; Harding lost a daughter to this same cancer.

Without a large family to give emotional support (Randa has lost her mom, dad and brother), this outpouring meant a lot and her story became a little less sad.


Finally, “The Guardian” had a story by Jonathan Freeland about social entrepreneur Hilary Cottam whose ideas transform societies.

A simple premise: Cottam keeps the full weight of her feet in humanity and common sense.

Her mode of operation is modeled differently depending on the task and goal. For instance, she went to Zambia, staying in a village’s outskirts for several weeks, determining need. She concluded clean water was the problem holding back this village and installed a pipe in the village center where clean water could collect safely. Simple and cheap, this transformed the community, saving the women from walking to far away, often dark and scary places, to get water for their families.

Another out-of-the-box solution came when her task was to turn around a failing school. After talking with teachers and students she realized why students weren’t fully present, seemingly afraid to take their coats off. Student lockers were in a poorly lit corner of the school and students were bullied and even beaten up. By changing the building design, a cheap fix was found. With daylight as protection, bullying dropped and, with several other simple, but effective moves, academic achievement rose.

Cottam credits Stan, a 90-year-old whose sadness was loneliness, for unlocking the door to helping elderly. After figuring out more connection was needed and the challenge was social, not medical or economic, she went to work. She found a volunteer to help and Stan got what he needed, listening to Sinatra songs with strangers, who quickly became friends, through a phone network she devised.

It wasn’t about spending money; it’s about creating social connection and getting people out of bureaucracy, into the hands of commonsense out-of-the-box solutions.



“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.” — Edgar Guest (1881-1959)