Saturday, December 20, 2014


"My greatest accomplishment is my next one."
~ Dave McGillavry

Friday morning I was working on my final post of 2014.  I was planning to highlight a few of the bigger events that have taken place throughout year along with the music that has inspired me along the way.  About halfway through writing it, I took a break so I could head over to my girls' school.  The great Dave McGillavry, most known for his role as race director for the Boston Marathon, was talking to the students and I didn't want to miss it.  When I arrived, Dave was in the process of telling them about his start in sports as a kid.  "When I was young, I loved sports of all kinds and I really 
wanted to be a professional athlete" he told them "but I learned pretty early on that this wasn't going to happen.  At least, not in the way I thought it would."  He went on to explain that, compared to most of his classmates, he was pretty small and relatively short and that because of this, he was always picked last for the team.  Not that this stopped him from trying.  As he grew up, he went out for everything .... basketball, baseball, you name it, but he rarely made the team.  So, instead of giving up, he found another outlet.  No coach, he decided, was going to tell him what he couldn’t do.  It was his game.  And he was making his own rules.  In high school, he became a runner.  And from there, he never looked back.  He ran the Boston Marathon for the first time at age 17.  He didn't make it to the finish line that year because his body didn't hold out.  He called his grandfather later in the evening to tell him what happened.  In so many words he let him know that, sadly, he had failed.  His grandfather's response?  "You didn’t fail, Dave.  You learned.  Next time you’ll be more prepared.  You only fail if you don’t try."  Wow, I thought.  This is some powerful stuff.  I might need to sit down.  He then went on to tell the kids about some of his greatest accomplishments.  He has run across the country four times to raise money for the Jimmy Fund, he ran the Boston marathon blindfolded to raise awareness and funds for Carroll Center for the Blind, he ran from Florida to Boston with his good friend who cruised alongside him in his wheelchair, again, to raise funds for the Jimmy Fund.  On his 13th birthday, he ran his age in miles.  He has done it every year since, running 60 miles last month to celebrate his 60th birthday.  Bottom line, if there is something he wants to do, Dave's going to find a way to make it happen.  After competing in the Boston Marathon many times, he eventually took on the job of directing it.
Dave’s goal in life, he told us, is to help other people feel good about themselves, to achieve their best and be proud of what they’ve done.  Seriously??  Who is this guy?  But that’s the cool thing.  Way back when, Dave was just a kid from Medford with big dreams, just like the kids sitting there listening to him.  Look what happens, I thought, when you set goals and then dedicate yourself to achieving them.  I was so thrilled that my own girls were in the audience soaking this up.  But wait, here's the best part.  At the end of the talk, Dave said he would take a few questions.  So, this kid raises his hand wildly and Dave nods to him.  He’s a 4th grader, in my daughter’s class.  “I’d like to make a statement,” he said.  “Um, ok."  Dave chuckled.  "I’ve never gotten that before.  Go for it.”  So he started in, “In the summer, I go to sports camp.  I am the last one picked for the team every time.  But, I still try and still do my best because that’s all I can do."  You could've heard a pin drop.  “Good for you!  Let’s give this kid a hand.”  We all clapped (some of us might have cried).  Dave pointed at him and smiled, "You and me are gonna go for a run together one day.  You're great!"  The kid beamed.  It was a pretty incredible moment for all of us.

After the talk I headed over to introduce myself.  I told him I'd run the marathon four times and that last year I'd shaken his hand when I crossed the line.  I asked if he remembered me.  Just kidding.  I didn't do that.  But, I did thank him for all the incredible work he's done and that he continues to do.  I wanted to give him a hug.  But, I didn't do that either.  I just felt so damn good, so inspired, so ready to go be the best I could be.  After a couple minutes, I snapped back into reality and decided on a asking for a picture instead of the hug.  Seriously, though, what a gift this was.  Such perfect timing as I reflect on this past year and prepare to embark on a new one.  I may still throw up that final post I was working on before I met Dave.  But, then again, maybe I'll just wrap things up by sharing a few of his key messages:
~ We are all good enough.  And we all belong.  
~ There are no mistakes only learning experiences. You only fail if you don't try.
~ Never settle.  If you accomplish your goal, set a new one.
Here's to a new year, some new goals, and, perhaps even a new way of approaching life.  See you on the flip side!

Listen to this:
Glow - IYES  

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