|The Orlando City Soccer Club Tent|
at Miracle Miles 2012
The number "10" is perhaps the most prized jersey number in all of soccer and has been worn by some of the greats in the sport. From Pele, Maradona, and Zidane in the past to current stars like Messi, Rooney, and Donovan, the number on their backs is synonymous with greatness. But this Saturday the numbers of greatness read a little differently: 24, 31, 28, & 25. You see these weren't jersey numbers, they were the number of weeks into a pregnancy that several babies taking part in Miracle Miles were born.
They came by the thousands to run around Lake Eola in downtown Orlando on Saturday Morning to raise funds to support the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in the 14th Annual Miracle Miles event.
While my family had formed their own team in the past in support of our "former tiny baby" Cameron who spent 8 days in the NICU after he was born, this year we partnered up with the wonderful and supportive staff and players from Orlando City Soccer Club on their "Running with Lions" team.
It's no secret that some of the most conditioned athletes in the world play soccer, so naturally the players for Orlando City ran very respective times in either the 5k or 15k portion of the event. The team registered a total of 27 participants and raised over $1200 dollars to support the NICU as of Sunday evening. While prizes were handed out for the fastest times in each race, the real winners may have put up some of the slowest times in the event.
At the back of the pack you would have found some of those numbers I mentioned before covering the backs of proud parents as they push their NICU babies in strollers. We have walked with those families and for the last few Miracle Miles not because we couldn't move faster, but because that's where we felt best.
There was one family with "31.5" on their backs who I had a chance to speak with as we walked. Their son was born at 31.5 weeks of age (typical is 40 weeks) and there he was, sitting tall and proud in his stroller as a healthy two year old. Even being born that early, their son was in the NICU for just 17 days at Winnie Palmer before being able to go home. A short distance from us were a large group of participants from the "Tin Man" team who we met last year and whose story is featured here. We also saw a family with "26" on their shirts and their twins being pushed in strollers together. I was amazed to learn that the survival rate at Winnie Palmer of babies born at 26 weeks or later was nearly 100%.
And as we approached the finish line almost an hour after we started the 5k, many of those families lifted their children from their strollers and these little survivors walked across the line themselves. Just like the names of the winners were announced nearly forty minutes before us, the names of these babies and families were announced to the cheers of the crowd.
It was a truly a special day for myself, my family, and our team "Running with Lions". Thanks again to Kay Rawlins for including us on the team and for making us feel so welcomed during the event.
If you haven't had chance to donate to our team yet, please take a minute to do so at the link here.