Commentary

September 19, 2013

Running for others

Commentary by Master Sgt. C. A. Campbell
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

SOUTHWEST ASIA – In the words of Vince Lombardi “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”

I used to run for myself, I loved running and everything about it. However, with time comes change, and instead I now run for others, so let me explain how I got from one to the other.

To me, there is no better feeling than getting out on the road pushing your body to limits you thought were impossible for you. I love running to exhaustion. Running for long distances is not only physically difficult but it is also a mental challenge willing yourself to keep going when your brain tells you to stop and rest.

I ran all the time; when I had a bad day I would run. A good day was made better when ending it with a good, long celebratory run. There were many other reasons and excuses that would get me out on the road, but something happened that changed my entire world and way of thinking.

This last February my father, Lt. Col. Dennis F. Campbell Sr., (Ret.), passed away. Da, which is an Irish way to say father and how I refer to him, was a great man, spouse, father and Knight of Columbus, and everything he decided to be a part of received 110 percent. For two months my family dealt with Da being diagnosed with one thing after the next – stage five kidney failure, stones in his pancreas, and a number of other diagnoses, until the fateful day we learned he had pancreatic cancer. I did a lot of running during those months. He would not even last two months with this prognosis. Trust me, pancreatic cancer, along with cancer in general, sucks big time.

Unfortunately, I was unable to be there in time for the last good bye which is something I will toil with for the rest of my days. In my heart I know he was proud of me, as I was of him, and there was nothing that really needed to be said. My mind keeps going over how he was going through something painful and his baby was not around, but my heart tells me that is how Da would have wanted it, ‘keep Chrissy away from this,’ he would have thought.

My wife and I had angels around helping us through those dark times, and they were Air Force angels. Command Chief Master Sgt. Dawna M. Cnota and Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Lopez, his awesome wife and his kids were those angels. I can never truly repay them for what they did and continue to do, and what they mean to my family. I can only promise I will pay it forward in their honor. The title ‘AF family’ truly can be reality if you let it happen. I have friends in different parts of the world praying for me and wishing they could be close to give me a shoulder to lean on.

As I said before, I used to run for myself, but after Da passed there weren’t enough roads to fill the void that is still in my heart. It wasn’t fulfilling to run anymore, I had lost the desire, not uncommon for such a tragedy.

I would still run though. I ran until it hurt, sometimes, I would have to call my wife to come get me because I was eight miles away from my house in the next town and didn’t think I could make it back at a decent hour. Other times I would run so hard and sprint to run past the pain I created more pain and quickly exhausted myself. Sometimes I forget I am supposed to act like an old man, but in reality I am a big kid.

A while back I read a story about a father who would partake in all kinds of races because his son who was handicapped wanted to do them. They are called “Team Hoyt” and it consists of father, Dick, and son, Rick, Hoyt. Initially Dick was not a runner but when his son told him “Dad when I’m running, it feels like my disability disappears” he started training and entering races. Dick’s son was his inspiration and motivation.

On one tear-filled run I actually listened to the lyrics I was running to and it finally clicked. The song by Swedish House Mafia, “Don’t You Worry Child,” the lines “My father said, ‘Don’t you worry, don’t you worry, child. See heaven’s got a plan for you,’” was when I knew Da was with me pushing me to keep running.

So with the Hoyt’s story in mind and Da’s guidance I changed my mentality. Now I run for those who can’t. I run for my Da, for my wife because of her hip surgery, for my niece Lauren Campbell, who has Down syndrome and cannot run due to medical problems, and for all others who cannot run. Don’t get me wrong this is not for those who can run but choose not to, but those who physically can’t. Those who can run but choose not to, even if they need to, are lazy and can get up and run for themselves. Whenever I can talk to my daughter Amelia, my angel kisses, she gets to decide the least distance I run the next day, sometimes she is brutal to me. I think she is showing her anger at me missing out on some of her triumphs while deployed.

I run for those who want to but physically will likely never be able to. I grew up with one friend, for a few years, who had one leg longer than the other. He would get so angry when we held back during play because we did not want to hurt him. But I also saw him have to stop playing, which at those times consisted of lots of running, because he was in pain. He would go inside because it hurt too much, physically and emotionally. I run for him and those kids who watch others and dream they were right beside them running and having fun with them. I still see them to this day and I want to pick them up and take them for a run, but I don’t because I am sure I would get tackled or worse by the parents or guardians nearby.

This was my new “inspivation,” a word I would love to put in the dictionary, because in my mind inspiration and motivation go hand-in-hand. Inspivation can come in different forms but most of the time it is lumped into two categories, in my humble opinion, personal and heroic. You can find it sometimes in the weirdest places or from the most unlikely of sources.

My inspivation is personal and heroic, personal with running for family members and in honor of those heroes who cannot run anymore due to their service to others. Plus one of my biggest heroes is my Da, he led one of the best lives and I can only hope to be half the man he was.

I say heroic because sometimes someone does something phenomenal which inspires others to try to mirror them. Most recently was a Ms. Antoinette Tuff a Georgia elementary school bookkeeper who talked a shooter into custody with not one person being injured or killed and hardly any shots fired. That is a heroic act which deserves notice and inspires people to react better in situations.

I run for others because I know my Da wants me to, he spent most of his life serving others. He now has a scholarship in his name with the Knights of Columbus in Oklahoma because he started holding a dinner and the proceeds went to help pay for tuition for families who wanted to send their children to Catholic schools.

Trust me when I say this is my inspivation because there are times when my body parts say “no we should not run today.” Many times I would love to hit the snooze button and not get up at 0400, the cooler part of the day, but I don’t because I believe in my inspivation and I know Da believes in me. I was given my father’s handkerchiefs when he passed, I carry them on my runs and when it is long and I am tired I wipe my sweat away with his handkerchief and I know Da is rooting for me to keep on running. I think he is wiping away my pain.

I run for those who can’t run due to physical limitations and in the memory of my personal idol my father.

Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

I guess the big question you must ask yourself and what I pose to you is “What is your inspiration?”




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(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Krystie Martinez)

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