Bikram yoga. Michelle had just been home talking about her Bikram practice. We talked about it a lot over the holidays. Michelle had been practicing for nearly 5 years. I wondered if I could survive 90 minutes in 105 degree heat. I had a range of readily available excuses; the easiest one was that there was no Bikram in Cincinnati, Ohio. And my unspoken reason was that I hesitated because I was quite sure the class would be filled with shapely 30 something’s in bikinis and there I’d be, let’s just say, a mature woman and definitely not in a bikini.
Shortly after Michelle left for London, I decided I needed to learn about Bikram. Now, it is true, that if I decide to learn about something, I don’t stop until I feel convinced that I have learned what I needed to learn. My family and friends can attest to that fact as I often drive everyone to their wits end, with my endless searches and questions. I started with the ‘Bikram class locator’, plugging in 45042, my zip code just for fun, assuring myself that there was no Bikram nearby. I am convinced, sometimes the universe sends a message and there it was…. Cincinnati Bikram Yoga. Opened mid-December and just 35 minutes south.
The next day I had a meeting at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. I gathered my courage and decided that I would head to Bikram just after. After all, I was in the neighborhood. How bad could it be? Just as the meeting was ending, I asked Kathi Kinnett about Bikram, assuring myself she would add to my long list of reasons against the idea.
And then THE BRIBE. Kathi offered to go with me, to help offset my worries about 30 year olds and bikinis. She agreed to partner the Bikram if I agreed to Conquer the Canyon. She agreed to call 911 if I fainted or worse. She agreed not to laugh if I was unable to do the first position. She agreed to secrecy, never to talk about my first Bikram. Without hesitation, I accepted the bribe, clearly used to bribes from raising my children.
For me, the first Bikram was a ‘near death’ experience. I attempted some of the poses, the heat taking its toll. For some of the poses, I sat, wishing the 90 minutes away. And strangely enough, after those first 90 minutes, I was hooked. There was something there, something that was helpful, something serene, something that I needed and something peaceful about those 90 minutes, staring in a mirror, attempting to stretch and balance all at the same time. The ‘universe’ was right. Silently and privately, I signed onto the Bikram and admittedly much less sure about fulfilling my part of the agreement, hiking the Canyon.
Why would I want to Conquer the Canyon? I had never been to the Grand Canyon, never thought about it really; my focus –Run for our Sons. But… then, the Canyon is scheduled for April, a month I both love and hate, always looking forward to signs of spring, but on the other side bittersweet. Jenny, Michelle, and Chris have April birthday 11, 14, and 27. Patrick died on April 29. The month is full of remembering: wonderful and tender moments, heartbreaking/gut wrenching moments, and each day recalling the day before or the day after moments, memories, and time. There are thoughts unspoken, unspeakable, about precious times filled with tears of sorrow, pride, and love. And as I thought about the Canyon and about April, I mentally committed to the bribe, to be on the team to Conquer the Canyon.
Chris and Patrick would never see the Grand Canyon from earth, but I decided I would take this journey and with each step, paint each color, each view of the amazing landscape, the grandeur of the Canyon on my heart, and send it to heaven via the universe with love, with remembering, with longing.
It is April after all…Spring, a new beginning, as well as a time for remembering, a time to celebrate, a time to participate with others – actually a perfect time for this journey.
And as you might imagine, part of the deal is that I am raising money for research. I realize we all have precious few dollars to spare and decisions around donations are done thoughtfully, carefully, and with purpose. I’m asking for your help. I am asking you to support this journey. And I, in return, promise to Conquer the Canyon for every boy and every family where Duchenne, the uninvited visitor, has entered.
I would be grateful, thankful, and thrilled if you would join our team. I can promise that every dollar you give will be leveraged to accelerate therapies and to change the predicted outcome for all of our sons. Because it is important, because it matters to me and I know to you. Duchenne is a complex multi-system condition and it will take all of us, together.
Give what you can and if you are able. Send me your thoughts, your karma, your prayers, your silent commitment. Let’s End Duchenne.
Pat Furlong, Founding President, CEO
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