"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Run, Kelly! Run!

Almost exactly three years ago, our lives were enriched by the addition of a new friend. Kelly Gottsman walked into our house one night in early January of 2010 on the arm of my best pal Micheal Howard. We ate chocolate fondue and talked for a few hours, just the five of us, and when Michael and Kelly left, my wife and I turned to each other and made bets on when the wedding would be. You'd have had to know Michael at the time to know how outlandish the idea had been hours before, but we'd witnessed the magic of two people meant for each other that night, and as holders of that torch ourselves, we recognized it. Eight months later, the Doctors Howard were married and living Happily Ever After. They totally beat both our guesses.

Kelly is the one without the top hat :)
I was going to say Kelly is larger than life, but she'd probably take that as a joke about her height. Instead I'll say she is one of the most completely ALIVE people I've ever met. She IS tall, taller than me and I'm over six feet. It was hard to tell at first because Kelly is fond of heels, but one night standing next to her, both at the kitchen counter chopping veggies, both barefoot, I saw she had me by a good half inch. Yes, within weeks we were at the barefoot in their house helping cook dinner without being asked stage of friendship. That's the kind of person Kelly is. She is also drop dead gorgeous. The boys in our little social group, all around 10 at the time, had goo goo eyes. She also has the most awesome sense of humor EVER. Maybe I say that because it is often rooted in the meanest sarcasm ever, much like my own, but I love it that way. She is also one of the smartest people I've ever run across. I have some very smart friends and relatives and had some genius professors in college, and I'd put Kelly's mind up against any of them. She pulls up facts and data like a computer and that thing YOU think to say a day after the argument has ended comes to HER right then. It isn't fair, really, but isn't her fault, she's just that way. She uses her powers for good, usually, and helped save my sanity and that of my sister and family just a couple months after meeting me. She didn't know these people, yet she was there with expertise and advise and comfort and while I won't go into the details, I'll say I won't ever forget it and can't ever repay her for it. And that's just what she is to me and my family. She worked a miracle on Michael and his son. You ever want to meet the real life Mary Poppins, I'll introduce you. But Kelly is really much better than Mary Poppins. For one she is real, as real as you can get. And what's best, she didn't leave when she had worked her magic. She may not have a talking umbrella, but she has magic just the same.

Last year was a tough one for Kelly. The problem with being a real life Mary Poppins is that sometimes real life comes up and bites ya in the ass. She had some health problems that didn't look like they'd ever leave, and then she lost her father to cancer, actually a form of leukemia. Earl Gottsman was awesome. He is the source of Kelly's height, and from what I knew of him and have found out since his death also her kindness and love and generosity and good humor. He was a college professor and sometimes administrator. Even into retirement, he was an adult league softball star. He was friendly and accepting and threw himself into Kelly's new family (which happily includes us) with vigor and enthusiasm and love. He adored Kelly and was incredibly proud of her and he was her Daddy and he was too young to die, yet he did. Devastating.

Kelly was sad. You'd have to know happy Kelly to understand how heartbreaking that is. But Kelly, amongst everything else, is a fighter. She proudly claims to "never half-ass" and she lives up to that better than anyone I know. Kelly has decided to honor her dad by raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by running the Disney World Half Marathon this weekend. Kelly was a runner in high school and maybe college, and she was fast. She says she wants to get her fast back. Hell yeah, Kelly! She has raised $3800 so far and if you'd like to add to that total, there is still time. Her fundraising page has a blog that is funny and inspiring and also features a link to easily donate by credit card. It's on the right hand side. The big button that says "DONATE NOW". Hee hee :)

Kelly hopes to finish in under two hours, which is good time, I understand. She explains it this way, in perfect Kelly fashion,

When I ran this race 10 years ago, my finish time was 2 hours and 39 minutes. Provided the course hasn't changed to include running up Space Mountain, I'm confident that my 32 year old self could dust my 22 year old self by a solid 40 minutes.

Anyone looking down the barrel of getting older has got to admire that. She's awesome, see?

I'm looking forward to Saturday morning. I'm going to wake up at 5:30 am to "be there" in spirit at least for the start. Kelly thinks she can work out a way for me to track her progress through the race online, and I hope she does. I'll do it. I'll be her cheering section back home. Michael is going to be a "ChEAR" person on site. That term is too cute. So too cute it even makes a dedicated Disney Geek want to hurl, but that's what they call it. He'll get to see the start at Epcot, then get on a monorail for the Magic Kingdom where he will get to see her run through the Cinderella Castle, the half-way point of the race, before heading back to Epcot to see the finish. It all sounds so cool. I'm so happy for and proud of both of them. I'm beyond thrilled that this is all happening at DISNEY!!!! All I needed was further proof the place is really magic, right?

Via con Dios, Doctors Howard. Have a great time, be proud and be safe. I love you both.

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