Last year at this time I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I had been communicating with an incredible girl online who convinced me to crew in this event called Get Your Guts in Gear, which was a two day bike ride that raised money for people who suffered with inflammatory bowel disease. I had made a comment on a facebook page that she was the admin of about how much I missed swimming competitively and little did I know, my life would never be the same. It opened the door for this individual (who I know does not like the recognition I normally would give to someone who means so much to meJ ) to message me privately about how she understood what I was going through.
I had heard her talk about how Get Your Guts in Gear was something that I had to do because I would be a completely different person if I took part in it. But I was petrified. I didn’t know anyone except for her and I only knew her on facebook so the idea of going away for the weekend with a bunch of strangers, and potentially being in a position that would force me to be open about parts of my life and body that were so difficult for me really had me torn. On one hand I knew it was something that I needed to at least try but on the other, it was just so overwhelming.
When I came home after having an awful day last April, I received what was probably my friend’s last attempt to get me to be involved and the message just said “There are still spots open to crew New York. Just Saying.” I remember this vividly. I was standing in my room starring blanky for probably 10 minutes and then just opened my laptop and registered for the event.
There was no going back….
Within literally minutes of being there, I could just tell that it was exactly where I needed to be. And after the first night, I had truly felt like I had known all of the people that were there my entire life. The weekend of Get Your Guts in Gear truly changed my whole outlook about this disease and just the world in general. It was the first time I was actually away and just able to be myself. I was pretty much eating the way I would normally eat if I was home, without caring or worrying about what anyone thought. I was amazed at how similar I handled certain situations, at how much my feelings mirrored other peoples, and just generally felt like I had found a real family with people that were complete strangers to me just days before.
My life was never the same after that. I never ever felt alone again.
And even though this friend of mine does what she does for no other reason than she is one of the greatest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, I really do want to say thank you to her and for all of the people that were there with me last year. I will never forget how much you all helped me not only get through the weekends challenges but have been by my side supporting me since I met you one year ago around this time.
I am very much much looking forward to the weekend ahead and hugging the crap (pun sort of intended) out of all of you. And for those of you who can’t make it, please know how much you will be missed and how loved you are<3