I’m heading back to Richmond, Virginia, for the next marathon, my 17th. This race is a special one for one main reason – it is a giant Meg’s Miles reunion, where runners from across the US and a few other places travel to share a weekend of love, laughter, running and even some tears. It is a gathering of those who were brought together on Facebook because of a single woman, Meg Menzies, who was tragically hit and killed by a drunk driver on a training run early one morning in January 2014.
Amazingly, many of those who are gathering in Richmond to remember Meg and share in the weekend experience were not runners prior to her death. In fact, most of us didn’t even know Meg. I fall into both those groups.
I heard about Meg, a wife, a mother, a Christian and a person who served others, through Facebook when a high school friend posted about her death. The story hit a chord with me, and I decided to join in the memorial run for Meg that her friends organised. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one; approximately 100,000 people from across the US and around the world heard about her story and also ran in Meg’s memory. While Meg may not have been well know before then, she came to the consciousness of many others – some runners and some not – in the blink of an eye. Some of us didn’t want to have the story end at that memorial run. Some of us – more than 15,000 of us – continue to honour Meg with our running to this day, posting miles, encouragement and thoughts for her family on the Meg’s Miles Facebook page.
And some of us are fortunate enough to be able to make the journey to Richmond for this event. This is my third time to go and spend a few days (and 26.2 miles of road) with people I’ve gotten to know on Facebook, and some in real life. We have become a family of sorts, and this is our reunion. Meg’s mom is always there, giving her famous hugs and smiles and comforting us as we think of who Meg was and what she stood for. She misses her daughter terribly, and we are a poor substitute to replace what she has lost. But I know she values our participation in Meg’s Miles, remembering her daughter through our running and our acts of love and service for others.
I wouldn’t be running for 22 Too Many if I hadn’t become active in Meg’s Miles. Because I started running with them, I have branched out, wanting to share with others who are hurting the love, support and hope I found within that group. It’s my way of ‘paying Meg forward’ to those who may need it. Meg is the reason for this. So when you thank me for running for these heroes, please instead thank Meg for being the person she was that inspired me to run for them.
For this race, I am beyond honoured to run in memory not only of Meg, but also in memory of a hero who loved Virginia for more than half his life. This course is beautiful, and since he loved being outdoors, I hope he enjoys our time along the James River. And he was a Christian who loved to serve and help others, much like Meg. Perhaps Meg had a hand in matching us? The similarities are so strong and I just can’t help but think Meg is smiling knowing who will be joining us on her favourite marathon course in 2017.
SGT James M. Ciccone, US Army
3/26/88 – 11/26/12
(from his mother) James M Ciccone was 24 years old, died Nov. 26, 2012 by suicide. He was born in Hickory, NC but lived more than half of his life in Virginia Beach, VA. He loved mudding, country living, fishing and going to the race track. Most of all he loved the human race and would give the shirt off his back to anyone he knew that needed it. One time he even housed 2 homeless individuals at Fort Benning, GA. He was one of the purest people I’ve ever had the opportunity knowing. He believed in God and lived a loving example for all of us, even me, I’m his mom. I only hope to be able to continue living his legacy of being so kind and patient with others, it was a gift he had that I don’t even think he realized. He was in essence exactly what the world needs all of us to be. He did have his faults too, none of us are perfect. But he definitely was the purest individual I’ve ever truly been around in my life.
Silent tears fall gently,which others never see, for our kind and loving son, brother, grandson, nephew, uncle and friend, who meant the world to us.
“A loved one is a special gift,
one you hope will stay,
We never thought the day would come
when you would go away.
And when the moment came,
you hadn’t said goodbye,
The pain just overwhelmed us,
and all we did was cry.
We only wish you knew
just how much it hurts to lose you,
And the pain it puts us through.
Falling tears and aching hearts
are things we have to bear,
But losing you the way we did
will always seem unfair.
All we have are photographs
and memories to share
We’d give our lives to turn around
and see you standing there.
You showed us many things in life
But, James, you never showed us,
how to cope with losing you.
Nothing is more treasured,
than the thought we have of you
You were so very special,
we thought the world of you.
You left us with a broken heart
and happy memories too,
But we never wanted memories;
we only wanted you.
You left a place no-one can fill;
we love you James and always will.
We will talk about you often;
we will think about you.
You won’t be forgotten by us,
You never will.
We will think about you night and day;
we love you more than words can say,
Simple words but very true,
We will always love and remember you.
by Jason Ciccone