For those who missed our main speaker Mark David’s speech on June 2nd, below is his touching tribute to the teams in attendance and to his late wife Laura David.
Hello everyone. First of all, I’d like to thank you all for attending our 6th annual Laura’s Smile Mile. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mark David and Laura, the namesake of this race, was my wife.
For many years (4 to be exact) I stood up here in front of you all as a support person while Laura was giving her inspirational speech thanking everyone for attending and explaining how important this event was to her. In 2010 she wrote in her journal after the event:
“What a beautiful day it was. It was a day of inspiration, awareness, and hope to all those affected by ovarian cancer. I can’t believe we’ve been hosting this for four years now! So many people played a significant role in Laura’s Smile Mile’s success. I am proud of everyone and cannot express my gratitude adequately enough.”
As much as I never wanted to think about it, I knew one day I may be standing up here alone.
So here we are….Those of you who knew Laura may recall how much she loved stories and it was not unusual for her to read a book in a couple of days. Stories bring back a memory I had of when Laura and I were first dating. 10 years ago we were sitting on a bench in the mall just people watching and Laura turned to me and said “You know all these people have a story. I bet some of them are very interesting.” She continued with “Mark, I wonder what my story in life will be?”
In life there are all different types of stories; short, long, sad, happy. Everyone knows of a different story which ultimately brought them here today. Laura was more than just my wife; she was a friend, daughter, sister and aunt, much like many of your loved ones are that you are here today in honor of. You may have attended because knew Laura personally. Perhaps you yourself are an ovarian cancer survivor. Or, maybe a friend or family member is dealing with this disease.
Laura was a woman in her 20s thinking about children, not cancer when she received her diagnosis at age 23. I’m sure this was a similar situation to Krisi Button, of team Button’s Bevy, who at the age of 27 was pregnant with her 2nd child when she received her stage 1 diagnosis.
Unfortunately, unlike Krisi, Laura’s cancer was not detected until stage 3C, the same stage loved ones on the teams Marchin’ for Marilyn and Krusin’ for Karen were diagnosed at.
Through the years of her cancer treatments, Laura had support from those close by in WI and all over the country, much like the team Miller’s Milers who have people racing virtually across the nation today in their own states. Or, like the story of Lynne’s Laps for Love and Krusin’ for Karen who have family flying in from different states to show their show support today.
As you heard from her journal entry, this race brought Laura hope and inspiration. Team Marchin’ for Marilyn used this race as well to bring home the message of love and support. They made a banner from their team last year that got hung above the entry of Marilyn’s house.
Despite her cancer, Laura maintained her sense of humor and love for life throughout it all, much like Tami Hess did according to her family & friends who are here with us today as part of Team Tami, in memory of their friend.
We named this event Laura’s Smile Mile because in spite of everything she always managed to smile, much like Sharon, whose friends and family walk in her memory with us today as part of team Pennies for Grandma.
They told me “For years and years, whenever Sharon would find a penny, it would make her day (as simple as it is). All of her family and friends knew this about her. To this day, when anyone finds a penny, we know that is Sharon’s way of reminding us that she is right there with us.”
When Laura asked me that seemingly innocent question over a decade ago in the mall, she had no idea her story on Earth would tragically end much too soon but that her passion for life, strength and courage would give hope to thousands of people, many of whom she never even personally met. Laura left us here on Earth to receive her wings in Heaven on July 3rd of last year.
Even though she is only here with us now in spirit, her story lives on in in all of you. As the team captain for Cancer Sucks Schweaty Balls said “Any person that was lucky enough to know Laura will walk this earth a better person because of how she touched their lives.”
Much like Sharon’s pennies, whenever I see butterflies I am reminded of Laura and the joy something so simple brought to her. In honor of the 30 years we shared on Earth with Laura, I’d like to pay tribute to her memory with these 30 butterflies.
Poem: A Symbol Of Hope
A symbol of hope
A butterfly lights beside us
Like a sunbeam
And for a brief moment its glory and beauty belong to our world
But then if flies again
And though we wish it could have stayed…
We feel lucky to have seen it.