The picture on the back of our race shirts reads “I’m running in loving memory of my beautiful friend Kim Paradise Ross.” It is difficult for me to feel comfortable with calling myself a “friend” of Kim. Looking at one possible definition we find the meaning as “one attached to another by affection or esteem”. In today’s virtual society the term has become so watered down that its value more closely resembles acquaintance, and it is there that my comfort level is found. Friend is a title to be earned, not assigned.
Kim succumbed to breast cancer July 8th of last year. My memories of her are primarily grounded in our teenage years. She and I attended Fort Caroline Middle School and Terry Parker High School. While we did not necessarily run in the same social circles Kim’s personality elevated her above the social cliques. It was not difficult to be drawn to her smile and undaunted optimism, things she shared with all who drifted into her path. After graduation she became nothing more than a yearbook photograph but one not forgotten.
Last year a mutual friend of ours, Amanda Farmer, asked me to participate in the Team Kim Ross relay for the 26.2 with Donna. When Amanda gave me the back story it was impossible to say no. Kim had fought and overcome the cancer but was now in the throes of a second attack, one which would be described to me as virtually insurmountable. Both the pre and post race feasts were a mix of joy for the cause and sadness for the reality that this would probably be the last race Kim would run.