Hello! Thank you for visiting my page, for your kind and generous support, and for allowing me to share my story about the day I met the amazing Devante Burns...
It's a cold, rainy Sunday morning, the day after my first St. Jude Marathon and I am waiting downstairs in the lobby at the Ronald McDonald house in Memphis, Tennessee. The house is warm and wonderful, filled with Christmas decorations and gifts for the children and their families, provided through St. Jude Children's Research Hospital by donors worldwide. I've come to meet 9-year-old Devante Burns, and I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. His father, Toni Burns and I are very close friends, and they have come to Memphis for Devante's treatment. Although I was already signed up and collecting donations for the marathon when we found out about Devante's diagnosis, I quickly devoted my passion, my training and fundraising, my entire focus, to Devante's healing and recovery, to his comfort and that of his family and loved ones, to his life. And I had never met him.
Nothing could have prepared me for the magnitude of joy and love I feel for Devante the very first moment I see his bright eyes and huge, magnetic smile. He lights up the room. He lights up my life. We connect immediately and it's like there is no one else around. I can still hear his voice, I can feel the laughter we shared and the excitement we both felt when talking about games, basketball, football, family, music, things we were good at, things we wanted to do better. He asks me all about the marathon I'd run the day before for the hospital, was it fun, was it cold, how long did it take me (he laughs when I tell him it took me hours and hours), and did I get a medal...here is my cue. I reach into the pocket of my raincoat and pull out the medal for the marathon and place it in his hand. "I want you to have this," I say to him, "because I'm not sure I could have done it without you. This was our marathon. This is our medal, and I want to thank you." He looks up at me with an even bigger smile on his beautiful, sweet face. "Really? Thank you!" he says, and then he gives me a big hug. I don't want to let go of him, but I do, and we say our goodbyes. He and his family go to church, then back home to Cleveland. I go back to my hotel room, then to the airport, and I fly back to Los Angeles, changed.
Devante lived to be 10 years old, and in his short life he made a greater impact on the world around him than some who live many years beyond that. Each time I sign up for the next St. Jude Heroes Marathon in honor and memory of this great and mighty little soul, I am inspired to be my best, to give everything I can to those in need, to be like Devante and make the world a better place just by showing up.
Thank you for your support!
Love always, Terri