“Smiles for 3.1 Miles” race honors classmate

Aydin Abramson, Guest contributor

According to scientists, babies are born knowing how to smile. Smiling is a way that unites us. A smile can change a life, and it changed mine.

The words “tumor” echoed in my head. I sat there with salty tears. I was remembering one of the best smiles I have ever known: my friend Diego’s smile. Diego passed away from cancer. The sadness that was within me at that moment was palpable. He always had the largest smile on his face, even when he was visiting school in a wheelchair as he was struggling with how he felt. He always made my day brighter.

Thinking about his smile still makes my day brighter. Diego had the kindest soul. He helped many people. That year I learned a profound lesson, which was not to take a friend for granted. Before Diego passed, as a grade, everyone came together to support him.  I learned that life is much larger than myself. I learned what it is to be in a supportive community. This year, in memory of Diego, I hope to again bring the community together by having created a running charity event called Smiles for 3.1 Miles.

I came up with the idea for a 5K race because running is a perfect medium to motivate a person, and the feeling it gives can make their day, just like Diego made my day.  My running journey started with a passion, a passion to do something good for myself and help others. Running provides me with a sense of gratitude for the things that I have, a goal for constant improvement. Running is a part of me, it is a part of my life. I have learned that I can help people through my running when I joined the track team and cheered others on. People working as a team to support a common cause is the most beautiful thing in the world to me, so it seemed that the perfect way to raise money was to create a 5K fundraising race.

Just like Diego was supported by so many people, I wanted to do the same for other people so that they could smile.  Smiles for 3.1 Miles will be my biggest fundraiser in a series of events I call Project Smiles that I started in 8th grade, all inspired by Diego’s heartwarming smile and the community that was forged. In the summer of eighth grade I created my first charity event: a lemonade stand to donate books to a local hospital to make severely sick children smile. In tenth grade, I made another lemonade stand to donate to St. Jude.  This year, I will combine my deep passion for running and community in what I hope will be Project Smiles’ biggest fundraising event yet, Smiles for 3.1 Miles. The race will be on Sunday, June 5th, around the fields behind Weston High School. A ticket will be $25.00 and the proceeds will go to a charity called Starlight. Starlight brings joy and smiles to children in hospitals by preparing them meals, making hospital rooms less intimidating, and much more. 

On that day in June, people will cheer each other on, just like in the community I have set out to build with this charity. It will be a beautiful Spring day. Anticipation and excitement will build. There will be smiles on people’s faces. People will feel euphoria during the race, adrenaline pumping through the veins. After running, there will be refreshments. 

A smile can change a life. I am thankful that I have the ability to make a positive impact on those around me. I still remember Diego’s positive smile. Diego left behind a legacy of working together to achieve a common cause. Diego’s legacy echoes through me and radiates towards other people. Smiling is an innate human behavior, not learned. If you know of other people that would like to join in, please let them know. Smiles can change the world. 

Contact smilesfor3.1miles@gmail.com with any questions 

To register, please go to https://smiles78905.wixsite.com/smiles-for-3-1-miles