January 24, 2016 was one of the coldest noted days in the history of the Miami Marathon. What began as a blustery race start at 5:50am progressed into a still nippy but sunny 9:30am clock time as Peri prepared to walk the last 1000 steps of the Miami Marathon. She had trained for an entire year, yet never once walked more than 600 steps, and that was with taking a number of breaks. In addition, Peri had never trained nor walked on a road surface until race day. As Peri was helped up out of the jogging stroller and was secured into her Gait Trainer to begin to work on completing what she had set out to do, Team Peri knew that she would somehow get it done.
But we had no idea how exceptionally well she would not only complete those initial 1000 steps, but add on another 437 steps that she would need to cross the finish line as we miscalculated the distance and Peri's starting point. On that Sunday, Peri Finkelstein accomplished what she had set out to do, and then some. ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY SEVEN sure and steadfast steps were bravely taken by Peri to cross over the finish line to the cheers and chanting of “Peri, Peri” by the crowds of spectators, friends, family and Team Lifeline teammates.
To those of you who don't know Peri, she is a beautiful 16 year old young woman who has a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy and is trached and on a ventilator 24/7. She is mobile via an electric wheelchair. Peri's medical diagnosis has never defined who Peri is, and she has continually shown her family, friends, doctors, nurses, teachers and therapists that she is stronger, smarter, more compassionate, braver and more tenacious than most anyone they will ever know in their lifetime.
Team Peri has raced for Chai Lifeline over the past seven years in our attempt to honor the unconditional support and friendship that they have so freely given to our family at a time in our lives when we needed help. Support while Peri was in the hospital via visits from counselors and meals for the family. Chanukah toys. Camp Simcha. Parties. Hebrew Tutors. Insurance advocates. The list is endless. Chai Lifeline is always the one constant in the middle of the turmoil your family experiences when a child is in a continual medical crisis. Team Lifeline's fundraising has played a huge role in making sure that all of the Chai Lifeline supported programs are available to as many children and families that are in need of the services.
Team Peri's goal is to raise as much money as we can for Chai Lifeline. Peri herself is determined to make a difference in the lives of children like herself and is willing to push herself both physically and mentally than ever before to accomplish her goal. Goals that are outside of her comfort zone, a marathon race course on a road surface, 1437 steps, a mile. Goals that to some might even seem unattainable. However, Peri's strength and motivation can clearly overcome any obstacle set before her.
One of the first questions posed to Peri after she completed her 1437 grueling steps at the finish line of the 2016 Miami Marathon was “how will you top this next year”. Her immediate response of “I will walk one mile and cross that finish line” should not surprise anyone. Peri's strength is contagious. It is the catalyst that propels Team Peri forward in our physical training as well as in our commitment to race with Team Lifeline year after year.
We couldn't do it without every member of our team. YOU are Team Peri. Whether you are racing with us, supporting us with your encouragement, contributing towards our achievement of reaching our fundraising goals that we set forth each year, you are a part of what Team Peri is all about. So this year, we dedicate our 2017 Miami Marathon race with Team Lifeline to all of you. Together, we are Team Peri strong.