Sharon Heise of Chewelah made an emotional, well-deserved trip across a finish line to complete her dream of “finishing the Boston Marathon.”
After years and years of running in numerus marathons and volunteering for The Chataqua Challenge Fun Run, watching hundreds of others cross their finish line, Sharon finally had her dream come true when she qualified to run the Boston Marathon in 2012. Shortly after being notified of this accomplishment, however, her husband and soul mate JB Morrison became very ill and was subsequently diagnosed with leukemia.
Sharon made a decision to give up her dream in order to join JB on his own long and painful marathon. However, even as his health declined, JB and Sharon and their families continued to help so many others, raising money and volunteering for non-profit groups like The Rose Garden Healing Lodge. Sharon also continued to run for recreation and stress relief, with JB bringing her water along the way.
Then late in the summer, after a beautiful trip to Hawaii with family and friends, JB crossed his own finish line with Sharon right by his side.
Sharon continued to run.
Her friend Becky Oltean ran with her when possible and helped keep Sharon’s spirits up.
Then the unexpected happened. The Boston Marathon organizers sent Sharon a letter stating that she was invited to run in 2013 due to the hot weather they experienced in 2012, which caused many of the runners to have to drop out in order to avoid heat exhaustion. The Boston Marathon typically does not allow any qualified runner to defer their run, even for a death in the family but they were making an exception this year. This gave Sharon another chance to reach her dream of crossing that finish line.
To make matters sweeter, her daughter Liberty, also a runner, qualified to run the Boston Marathon in 2013. So the two ladies did what they always do, they raised thousands of dollars for The Leukemia Society and they continued to run. Just about a month before the race, however, Sharon’s brother in-law died suddenly. And then the unthinkable, Sharon became ill herself and was bedridden for three full days just one week prior to leaving for Boston.
Pulling herself together with antibiotics, fluids and prayers, Sharon got out of bed and boarded a plane all by herself. She was determined to cross the finish line.
Race day came and although Sharon was feeling better, she was not at her best. Her daughter Liberty, who had a better time and could have easily run ahead, made a decision to slow down and stay beside her mother throughout the race; this turned out to be a blessing.
The race gun fired and Sharon and Liberty were off and the dream seemed so close; well 26 miles away, actually. But they ran and ran.
About 1/2 mile before the finish line, just when the excitement was welling up inside, their dreams were shattered, along with so much else that day. Explosions were heard in the near distance and then a police officer stepped out in front of all the runners with his hands up. “STOP! The race is over,” he told them with an expressionless face. He motioned for them to move away, to file along with the others to a holding area. They were then told that there was a bomb at the finish line. Bewildered, Sharon and Liberty just huddled together, freezing from the crisp wind blowing across their sweaty bodies. Then a lady approached with something like a blanket (maybe a table cloth Sharon recalls) and wrapped it around them and thanked them for running for her husband, who had also passed away from Leukemia.
Sharon and Liberty did not know the fate of their family surely who were waiting at the finish line. They were so close to finishing. They eventually made their way back through the crowds and commotion to the hotel. There they found everyone safe except for some hearing loss experienced by Sharon’s other daughter who was standing only 50 feet away from the explosion. Sharon and her family spent the evening together, not in celebration, but in pain watching the events unfold on television, knowing how close they were, and would have been if Sharon had been running at her best.
The next morning she took a long quiet ride in a bus back to the airport alone, no one saying anything along the way. She arrived late into Spokane, visited her son and then stopped in Chewelah to visit Becky, her best friend and running partner. The dream seemed to be at an end. Sharon was scheduled to work the next morning so she drove an hour along the beautiful Lake Roosevelt to arrive at the Inchelium Health Clinic where she works as a Physical Therapy Assistant.
When her co-workers heard the story and how she did not get to cross the finish line, they immediately rallied together to make her dream come true. Banners were made, balloons and roses were purchased, a finish line was created and the community was alerted by broadcast email and phone to meet at noon on the south side of the parking lot. Workers from the clinic and many community members who got the email message within a few hours gathered together.
Sharon was asked to go outside to see what was going on only to find a cheering crowd of on-lookers. She ran down the parking lot amidst hooting, applause, whistling and balloons flying; she crossed the finish line!
Sharon never gave up, no matter what came her way. She just kept going. She is an inspiration to everyone around her and should serve as an example to all of us who feel like stopping, quitting, giving up. In a world of chaos and evil, we need to run the race, fight the fight, and above all, CROSS THAT FINISH LINE! Run Sharon Run!
Submitted by Inchelium Health Clinic
In this photo: Sharon Heise crosses the finish line coworkers put together by coworkers.