Friday, April 15, 2005

Embrace Life

I first had the privilege of meeting Dara Marks-Marino in 2001 at the NORBA Nationals mountain bike race at Snowshoe, West Virginia. At that time she was already racing as a Pro, and my first memory of her was the way she made everyone around her feel like they were the most important person in the world. She had a sincere friendliness about her that just drew people to her. We were both preriding the cross country race course, and she very kindly let me follow her line down a sketchy descent, showing me where the best route was, and took time out of her busy schedule even to chat for a few moments. Over the ensuing years, we have run into each other again several times at Nationals at both Snowshoe and Vermont, and I was amazed that each time she remembered me, even though I was, and at my age will always remain, just an amateur. She even went so far as to stick around for the very end of the awards ceremony at the Vermont Nationals just to cheer for me, offered to provide support for me during the Snowshoe Marathon last summer, and called me on the phone from all the way across the country last fall to inform me that I had won the overall Marathon Series for my age group and congratulate me on that, as I was unable to attend due to the death of my stepfather. Every time I've ever seen Dara, she always has time not only for me, but for anyone and everyone, graciously answering questions, being willing to pose for photographs with fans, signing autographs, etc., and still exudes that same sincere kindness and genuine interest and concern for others.

Today I happened across an article she had written which touched me so deeply, I wanted to share it. I hope the world knows what a precious gift this young woman is and appreciates her for the truly wonderful person she is.

The full article Dara wrote may be found Here . However, if I may, I would like to quote some of the lines from it, where she talks about a memorium she had attended for a rider killed by a drunk driver, and states "And we stood there knowing that we'll all still continue to ride, everyday, taking the risk because the alternative is holing up inside the house and not really living life just to make sure we don't have life taken from us... So what can we do? Embrace life. Be grateful you are alive. Do today those things you want to do someday. Love with abandon. Make sure the people you love know you love them. Ride your bike. "

Thank you Dara, for reminding me to embrace life, and for the precious gift of your beautiful words. You are a treasure to to me, and I thank you for that.

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