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It is a cold winter day on 28 December in San Diego--47 degrees at 9 am. I am dressed in black shorts and a long sleeve orange shirt, determined to start training today for my 10 K. for Claire on 11 June. The waves of the Pacific Ocean crash behind me, and I feel a burst of optimism. I can raise money for this scholarship and do so by facilitating my own recovery from BED.
I feel I must set the right tone for this first run, and so I turn to classic hip hop: "I Go To Work" by Kool Moe Dee. I was not "with it" enough to have listened to this song back in 1989, when it first came out, but it is a perfect start: "I go to work, like a doctor," the rapper begins, and then kicks in with:
Open the door playtime is over
Running this race is no easy task given that I have for six months been in treatment for Binge Eating Disorder (BED). According to the National Eating Disorders Association, this term signifies an illness "characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards." People with BED often gain weight, but, far from merely an aesthetic dilemma, this mental health disorder can be diagnosed as "life threatening."
As a result of BED--as well as co-occurring depression and anxiety--my weight has ballooned more than sixty pounds. Now at 5' 7" and 202 lbs., I find myself at the average weight of the ideal NFL running back. And yet, despite this choice of metaphor, I have not gone for more than a cursory run, an activity I had once loved, in many months. In recovery, I look forward to finding my "new normal," and regular running will be part of the active lifestyle I seek to embrace. In effect, I am going from "couch potato" to 10 K. in honor of my precious and longtime friend, who was always, in life, and now in death, such a support when I was going through hard times.
The charity of choice is to be a scholarship to Sparhawk School that will be established in Maryclaire's name. This innovative private school aspires to enroll as many students as possible from diverse economic backgrounds. This scholarship will ensure that one more deserving young person has access to Sparhawk's progressive program. In it, the student will learn more than basics about math or history; he or she will also be actively and deliberately encouraged to become an independent-minded and confident individual. As succinctly affirmed in its mission statement: "Ours is a program, then, that honors children, values inquiry, encourages exploration, allows for innovation, and celebrates ideas. Children in our school gain skills that allow them to be self-initiating, self-directing learners, as well as joyful, responsible, and independent beings."
Maryclaire had been involved in Sparhawk School since its foundation in 1993. It was her first job after graduating from Lesley College with her Master's degree. At that time, we both lived in the Boston area, and so I know how excited she was to teach at a school where she could implement the innovative and effective curriculum for which Sparhawk School would become known. Teaching young children was so much more than a job for Maryclaire; it was her vocation. And she sought always to reveal the magic and the beauty of the world to her students.
I am proud to have called--to still call--Maryclaire friend and am proud to help secure donations for a scholarship in her name.