This year we celebrate the 5th Annual Kelly’s Christmas Light Run on Saturday, December 17th at 7pm. Even though you did not know Kelly it’s what her spirit represents that has us do this run each year. Kelly and I were best friends, as close as sisters and both founding members of the Y-Run Club in Puyallup, Washington. Kelly organized our first Christmas Light Run - a slow and easy run through her neighborhood to look at the displays. It was a time to enjoy the season with friends and fellow runners. It didn’t matter how fast or slow you ran, we all stayed close and took in the lights and feeling of the season. Afterwards was a Christmas celebration with friends over food and drinks.
The next year I moved to Arizona. Two months later Kelly was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Nothing sidelined Kelly. When I came back in October of 2003 to see her, we went on a 60 mile bike ride, an hour run the next day and a five mile hike the day after – all while she had been on chemo. She lived EVERY day as if it were her last long before she knew she was sick, enjoying every moment with her friends, doing what she loved, and most importantly, passing on her love of life to her then nine year old daughter, Alex. She was beating it and doing well. Unfortunately she caught the flu at Thanksgiving which put her in the hospital.
I was at Kelly’s bedside in December of 2003. The members of the Y-Run Club were incredible – someone always coming to the visitor’s area checking not only on Kelly but on me too. Later that week the Y-Run Club decided to proceed with the annual Christmas Light Run with a prayer for Kelly’s recovery which I’m happy to have been a part of. Sadly, Kelly died on January 7, 2004, just two short weeks after our run.
The Y-Run Club has decided to have an annual Christmas Light Run in Kelly’s memory and have so named it the Kelly’s Christmas Light Run. I am honored to be able to expand that tradition to Arizona and to know that so many are running in Kelly’s memory on the same night at the same time. This run gives us an opportunity to celebrate the Christmas season with friends, enjoying an activity that we all love. It is a celebration of life and health. It gives us a chance to remember that life is too short, death is too long, and that we should all savor every moment as Kelly did.
“There will be so many runners honoring Kelly’s memory that night… If you take a run through winter streets glowing with the lights of Christmas, think about all those you love, your friends, family and fellow runners. Spend a moment in contemplation of the blessings of life, health, family and friendship, and the simple joy we share in running.” – Michelle Barnes, Y Run Club
I look forward to spending this evening with you, my friends and fellow runners.