Sunday was one of those rare days during which you realize you’re part of something special, something much bigger than you. On this day, less than two months after his death, Tripp Roth spoke loudly and many of the more than 22,000 runners in the Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon & Half Marathon took notice.
Tripp died after battling a rare skin disease since birth. 67 days ago, I set out to raise money to increase EB awareness, help families with children who suffer from EB and fund research. My initial goal was $5,000 and we reached that within days. Today the fundraising total sits at $42,176 and counting. More than 500 people have contributed, including an anonymous $10,000 donation.
The day was perfect for running. Low humidity, comfortable temps, a slight breeze and spectacular sunshine. Bright red “Team Tripp” shirts dotted the race course and people yelled their support from the sidewalks. As inspirational as Tripp was during his 2 year, 8 month fight against EB, today’s experience built on that foundation.
“Go Team Tripp,” they would say. Or “Team Tripp in the house!” It was moving.
Amazingly, I felt the best I ever have running during that 13.1 miles. My last mile was my fastest. Call it adrenaline, good luck, nervous energy or whatever. But I think Tripp was with us all on Sunday.
After the race, my family and I got together with Tripp’s family — his mom, grandmother, grandfather and others — everyone in their “Team Tripp” shirts. There was even a tent bearing his name. The culmination of the past 67 days happened right there after the race. Everyone shared in the moment, talked about a brave little boy gone far too soon and the money he helped raise.
$42,000. And there will be more.
I’ll never forget Sunday, March 4, 2012. I’m a better person coming out the other side of this. I’ve learned a lot. I am eternally thankful to Tripp’s family for allowing me shine a big, bright light on their precious angel and the terrible disease he fought so bravely.
Since the day Tripp was born he knew nothing but pain. But that didn’t get in the way on Sunday. Tripp brought joy, some tears and a feeling of triumph — a sucker punch to EB and a step closer to a cure.
To everyone who donated: I can never thank you enough. You’ve helped make a difference.