Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Peggy Sue

The RunDisney world lost a rock star on Monday when cancer took Peggy Sue's life from us. 

Many have written far more eloquently about what Peggy Sue meant to them. Her daughter, Jane, said it best. "Early in my life she was a single mom who took me along with her while she tried to finish her night classes. She worked full time so she could give me the childhood that most kids dream of. I'll never forget her pulling me out of school for Bloomies shopping sprees or day trips to Manhattan for carriage rides and Broadway shows. I was the apple of her eye and the center of her universe. As I got older, she encouraged me to chase every dream I had and participate in every club or activity...because she wanted me to know I do anything I set out to do. I never once thought I couldn't be a lawyer, farmer, actress, dancer, designer, buyer, international woman of mystery...because what I wanted to be, she made it so I could believe in myself and be."

Wow! What a fabulous tribute. I hope my daughter has similar thoughts about me, instead of remembering the times I made her go to school when her cat died. To many of us, Peggy Sue was the lady sitting in an ECV at the end of the race cheering EVERY LAST RUNNER with the sign "HELLO Complete Stranger, I am proud of you!" No matter the weather, she would show up before the crack of dawn to hang out with the runners in the staging area. In only a few short years she became a rock star in the PbRC (Pacebook Running Club) world, and also the greater RunDisney universe.

At some point Peggy moved from the NYC area to Florida. Jane took up running after her mother's 2005 diagnosis with "Polymyositis, a rare autoimmune disease that leads to severe muscle weakness and chronic inflammation." She was in a ton of pain.

In 2010 Jane ran the Wine N Dine half marathon at WDW. Rather than hanging in her hotel room that night (it is a nighttime race), Peggy came outside and sat outside her hotel watching the entire race. She told her daughter "she had the best time." The famous signs started appearing in 2011 during the WDW half marathon. She had some funny ones, but the complete stranger one was her favorite -- and what she became most famous for during the past four years. She came back for the Princess Half Marathon, even though Jane was not running.

Grab your tissues.. "throughout the years Mom has been at almost every Disney event I've run, and even some that I haven't. She was always trying to be at the best spots -- midway and clsoer to the end to keep people going. I would finish my races and tell her stories about the race and then she would tell me about all the wonderful people she met along the course, too. Cheering for runners brought her to life again. She could feel the love from the runners when they would run by, stop and take pictures with her, yell her name and bring her gifts. She became a one woman aid stop on the course: snacks, drinks, cold towels on hot days, safety pins, icy hot... her sole goal was to keep us all happy an moving. She was as much a part of the running community as the runners.

"Fast forward to Wine n Dine 2014 - it was cold and pouring. Mom had been ill since May -- she insisted on making it out for this race. I was injured and miserable because, let's face it, my makeup wasn't gonna hold up in that weather. I tweaked a muscle that night and my injury slowed me to a crawl and I decided to get up on the sweeper bus. It was the easiest decision of my life. I knew deep down that this was going to be my last chance to see a race by her side. So I stopped at mile 5 and went back to my momma. And we sat in the pouring rain and cheered on the runners. She smiled for hours and it was the most joy I had seen in months. It will be one of my favorite race memories for may years to come.

"The thing about Mom is she was an ordinary, extraordinary person. She was just a woman with a simple sign. Some marker on a free poster board that she picked up at a race ... but she touched the lives of so many because of her kindness and her spirit. She would selflessly get up at our 2am wakeup calls and head out to the races because we needed her. And what most racers didn't know was that she needed them too...because that's what kept her going.

"And so I hope that her legacy continues and we keep it simple. Be kind to each other. Be supportive, in life, on the course, anywhere and everywhere. You never know what one simple gesture can do for a perfect stranger, after all, strangers are just friends we haven't met yet."

Peggy Sue proves we can all make a difference. It doesn't take a lot of money to show you have a heart, and to share it with the world. Share a smile. Hold a door for someone. Listen to Ashley who says "Don't be mean in 2015." Find little ways to make a positive difference in the world. Those small ways might just grow as they did with Peggy Sue - it started with a handmade sign, and in four years turned into a legacy. You might not know how your small gesture helps someone else, but that is no reason not to share your kindness with the world.

I'm glad I met Peggy Sue, even if it was just while we were both waiting for a table at Mimi's before the 2013 Dumbo Double Dare. Reading the many testimonials and journal posts on Facebook, I can see she was inspirational.

Peggy Sue's FB fan page is HERE

BTW, Jane decided to make her post public so it can be shared. "So please feel free to share away." 

No comments:

Post a Comment