Every once in while, us humans get a chance of a lifetime. Has this happened to you?

For me, this was unexpected and unforeseen. Earlier this year, my 7-year-old son, decided to try running with the local Cross Country team. We told him; “you know, son, it’s just running”. Well that was our view on the sport, but as encouraging parents who value our children’s opinion and views, we signed Eli up for the season.

The first few days of the season started right after summer and before his second grade school year even ramped up. Eli’s first practice was at the local community center, and with lots of other kids, that seemed bigger and more experienced. Eli listened intently and followed the coach’s instructions for stretching, and then off he ran, literally into the sunset.

We just stood in awe of our baby turned boy, and all of the other kids that run their hearts out.   About 20 minutes later, the group arrived back at the park and there was our son, last but with a smile on his flush face, gasping for air, while holding his side thanks to runner’s cramp. The season has begun, and my son is about to grow up even more.

Flash forward 3 months, after 50 plus days of practice, and about 8 track meets, we sit here on an American Airlines flight bound for Tallahassee. Eli has qualified for the National Cross Country Meet, and the whole family is supporting his valiant achievement and migrating to Florida to cheer on his anticipated valiant effort.

Several weeks ago I asked my son what he likes so much about running. “I love the team spirit of the sport as well as the solace of the run.” He enjoys time in his mind as well as how focused and peaceful the run makes him feel. On Thanksgiving Day, after a few days of gluttony and rest, Eli and I went for our first run together. I actually rode my bicycle and he ran.   After his usually 2 kilometers of running, we ended back at the house and Eli proclaimed; “That run was so relaxing! I feel so calm and happy.” This warmed my heart and provided me with deeper insight to my son’s wonderful persona.

To me, this trip to Florida, is a chance of a lifetime. To support my son’s effort and achievements is hard to put into words, frankly, and brings tears to my eyes every-time. Will Eli win? Probably not, but we know that for sure he will continue to amaze and inspire us and others around him to reach deeper and never stop achieving. Thank you Eli, for this chance of a lifetime.

David Zasloff