Happy Thanksgiving!

This morning, as I run the Gobble Gait 8k, I’ll be reflecting on the wonderful year I’ve had and all that I’m thankful for. I’m truly a lucky person with much to be thankful for and little to be disappointed in this year.

First, I’m thankful above all else that I have a fantastic family, who is there for me when I need them and they support me in all of my endeavors; even the crazy ones, like signing up for a half marathon half way across the country. When I say my family, I mean all of them…my mom, sister, boyfriend and his family, my pets, and my extended family. My mom, in particular, has always been my biggest supporter and best friend and I just wouldn’t know what to do without her (especially considering I wouldn’t be here without her!).

Next, even though I mentioned him above, I’ve grateful every day for my awesome boyfriend. He takes care of me (and I actually let him!) even when I’m crabby or demanding things are done my way (probably too often). He fixes my car and home, comforts me when I’m sad, lets me vent when I’m angry, makes me laugh daily, and is just generally the most awesome person I know. He supports my weight loss, ice cream eating, running craziness, horsing around, and volunteering efforts without question; all of the things that make me the person I am. I know I don’t do enough for him, but I hope he knows just how much I love and appreciate everything about him.

I’m also thankful for the President of the Heather Fan Club. “The Kiddo” is an amazing kid in every way! As he says, “I’m awesome, perfect actually.” When I started dating his dad three years ago, I never imagined just how much I would love this kid. He’s kind, sweet and above all genuine and generous with his compliments. He’s interested in my running and will be running his first race this morning!

My health and the health of my family is another thing I’m thankful for today. This year, I lost an uncle to colon cancer, so I know how important and lucky I am that others in my family are healthy. Things can change so quickly. When I’m running a race and wishing it were over, I try to remember how lucky I am that I have a body that allows me to run or walk at all. We all need to remember to be thankful for our bodies and our health more often; it’s one of the things we take for granted most until something is wrong.

Another thing I’m thankful for is River Valley Riders (RVR). I started volunteering almost 15 years ago when I saw a poster in my high school looking for people who liked children and horses. I called, was interviewed and started volunteering within a week. It has been my passion ever since. I never thought when I started that it would be something that would later define part of who I am. On my birthday in April, I will officially have been volunteering with the program for half of my life. As the program has grown and expanded, I have as well. I never imagined that helping others would actually give me back more than I give; at least that’s how it feels. The smiles from our riders/drivers are a reward unlike any other. Seeing a rider go from being afraid of the horses to being an accomplished rider is nothing short of amazing. Disabilities melt away and the abilities shine through. The bonds I’ve made with fellow volunteers, therapy horses and our riders/drivers are ones that have and will continue to be a source of pride, strength and support. I honestly wouldn’t be quite the person I am today without RVR and its’ Executive Director, the woman who not only started the program, but who continues to inspire and mentor others on a daily basis. Without people like her, the world would be a sad, depressing place.

Lastly, I’m grateful for the fact that in this difficult economy, I have a job. Although there are days I don’t want to go to work, I can say that I don’t hate my job; it’s not something I’m passionate about, but I’m content. It pays the bills and allows me to have roof over my head, the material things I need and most of what I want, lets me travel, pays race entries and keep my pets.

Take a moment to think about what you’re thankful for this Thanksgiving and if you can, give a donation to a local food shelf or charity to help someone less fortunate than you. No matter what our situation, there is always someone with less and a few dollars or a few hours of your time can make all the difference.



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