“Let’s go, troops!”
This was the kick-off to every road trip I ever remember taking as a kid. Once we were all packed, ready, and in the car, Dad would say a prayer for safe travels and then look in the rear view mirror and exclaim, “Let’s go, troops!” We traveled all over the United States and to Canada on these trips, some to see family, others to see national parks and monuments and attractions. The experience of traveling with my family was something I could never put a price on. I believe how my Mom and Dad chose to raise us and structure our household with an emphasis on spending time with family doing things together made those times now as adults when we do things as a family a continuation of that bonding experience. The idea of quality over quantity comes to mind as I think of those vacations, family dinners, holidays, Sunday afternoons, weddings, birthdays, trips to the farm, motorcycle rides, and all the other times I spent with my dad; they may have grown less often over time, but they still meant something. They were still important. They still held purpose. They were still our choice to spend time together doing something we enjoyed. As my family has participated in the Outpacing Melanoma 5k since it’s first year and every year since, this has become one of those events for us. It’s a time we come together for a purpose, to share a common goal and engage in much more than a walk. It’s a walk with our family, and now our friends, and all those who have had their lives effected by melanoma in some way. As I started the walk last year in May of 2017 just a few short months after Dad died, I didn’t know if my heart was in it. In fact, I was pretty sure it was the last place I wanted to be. That shifted quickly as I saw more and more people gather that morning, putting up their signs on the Warrior Wall, wearing their team shirts in memory or in support of a loved one, getting their pre-race snacks and coffee, mingling, reconnecting, taking team pictures, and reuniting for this annual event that has become so important and meaningful to so many. I decided I’d start the walk off that morning by listening to Dad’s favorite song by his favorite band, “Tuesday Afternoon” by The Moody Blues. I watched the crowd shift as the people started the walk, picking up speed, finding their pace as I heard the lyrics “I’m just beginning to see…now I’m on my way…”, and right then, I knew this is what Dad would be doing. He’d be here. He’d be walking, talking, joking, smiling, laughing, sweating, and doing his best along side his family and friends. I walk again this year for him, for my dad, Grant Bowerman. I love you, Dad.
…and on behalf of Team GB to all our Outpacing Melanoma family: LET’S GO, TROOPS!