24 Hour Relay for Aaron

>> Monday, December 01, 2014

This is the most important post I've ever written.

And one of the hardest.

I introduced you all to my college buddy Aaron Purmort a year ago in this post. He had run the Twin Cities Marathon in 2009 and was hoping to again last year.

Aaron running a surprise 5K in his honor along with Nora and baby Ralph last fall.
See video here in my post last year.

College of Visual Arts graduating class of 2003. Aaron's in the red sneakers.
I'm the goof near the middle with the "thumbs up." We're all babies.

Here's the short version of a much larger story:

- Aaron has a seizure on Halloween in 2011. They find a brain tumor.
- Aaron proposes from a hospital bed and gets married before brain surgery.
- Ralph is (created and then) born.
- The tumor is gone in fall of 2013 (as mentioned in that news video linked above).
- The cancer comes back. Aaron fights.

Then some horrible news. Under 3 weeks ago, Nora wrote this on her blog:

Aaron’s treatment has stopped working.

The tumor grows, swells his brain, sends his body into cataclysmic seizures, paralyzes his left arm and leg and now he has a choice to make: to continue the treatments that aren’t working, or to live his life as comfortably as possible.

To be clear, he is dying. They are talking about hospice.

And that is what he has chosen.

(These photos are from Nora's blog)

Then last Tuesday, she posted this:

It’s over.

It wasn’t a war or a fight. Those things have rules. This was more like Aaron getting in the ring with the Mohammed Ali of cancers, and smiling for round after round after he got his teeth knocked out and his face rearranged.


It ended today at 2:43pm, in the middle of a run-on sentence, my head on his heart and my arms around him in a hospital bed built for one, but perfect for the two of us.


It’s okay. It’s okay. Thank you. We had so many good years. Not enough, but really good years. You were so good. You were so good to me. I love you. I’ll keep you in my heart, forever. It’s okay.

He breathed out, and I readied for the sharp inhale that would follow 8-10 seconds later, rattling through his body. It never came.

That’s how it ends. One quiet second.

I read that. I cried. I left for an early morning run just after hearing the news. I ran, I cried, I felt grateful, I got angry, I smiled at old memories, and I cried some more. It was a weird run.

You've probably already read his obituary. It came out yesterday, and has been making national news:

Yep, it's real. And so very awesome.

I wanted to do something for Aaron. Something for his family. Something wacky (like him). Maybe a race. No, that's not enough. A BIG race? A LONG race? Then I had an idea. I talked to the people at Hamline University, and they were on board. So I bring to you a "24 hour relay" in Aaron's memory and as a fundraiser for his family...

The 11 laps/mile indoor track at Hamline above 3 basketball courts.

"24 Hour Relay for Aaron," Friday, Dec 12 at noon - Saturday, Dec 13 at noon. Indoor elevated track, Walker Fieldhouse, Hamline University.

What's that? How's that work? Read on...

• We'll keep a baton moving around the track for 24 hours straight. Everyone only runs 1 mile at a time, so you don't have to run for 24 hours. That'd be stupid. You don't even have to run for a full hour. You only need to be able to run a mile. At whatever speed. It's not a race. (But we will keep track of times if you're competitive.)

• Groups of 2-6 friends (or strangers) sign up for 1-hour blocks of time. After 1 person covers a mile, he/she hands off the baton to the next person in the group. It's easy to fill an hour. If there are 4 of you running and you can do a mile in 7 mins 30 secs (for example), you're all only getting to run 2 times. It can be competitive training with/against friends, or you can just be there to support Aaron and Nora.

• Interested? Join our Facebook events page and let us know which hour you'd like to be in charge of. Just "join" the Facebook event, and comment on that event wall which hour you'd like to take. Once you hear back from me, it's yours.

• If you can, donate to Nora and Ralph HERE.

2 weeks ago: Aaron and Ralph. (From Nora's Instagram.)

Right now, I set our fundraiser goal at $2,500. That's a lot of groceries. That's a year (or so) of preschool for Ralphie. That's a trip to visit family. That's some burden off Nora's back for a while. I just want to help if we can. (Nora used some previously donated money to get an overnight nurse when Aaron was in hospice care at home so she could rest too.) I really hope we can hit that goal amount, and then raise it higher. So go here to give. It's easy with a credit card - it just takes a moment. And if you show up in-person to the relay, I'll have a box for cash or checks.

Look, I'm not Aaron's best friend. We were in the same group of friends in college, and we hung out a lot. We've maybe seen each other 4-5 times in the last 5 years, the last being when 4 of us college buddies got together to watch a shitty "dude movie" (G.I. Joe: Retaliation - at least Channing Tatum died pretty quick). But as I wrote Nora a week ago (just before Aaron passed) as I was planning this relay, "I think about you guys all the time - many times a day, and every night when I hug my boys before bed. You guys are so strong. Cancer sucks. I want to help somehow." This is how I can help. Please help too.

So gather a few friends that want to run a bit, join our Facebook event so you can let us know which hour you'd like to take, and donate to Nora and Ralph here.

Stay tuned here or our Facebook event page for updates.


That Pink Girl 1:47 PM, December 02, 2014  

This post was an answer to prayer. Thank you, thank you for sharing Aaron's story and this challenge.

Amy 9:16 AM, December 11, 2014  

Good luck with your relay. It is wonderful for you to do this for your friend. I'm out of town and cannot be there but I donated. I don't know them but I wish the family all the best going forward.

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