I "met" Christi in the winter of 2003, a few months after she had been diagnosed. I adored her from the start. Can I be honest? One of the very first things I loved about Christi was her love for school. I remember her mom talking about how much Christi loved school and learning and reading. And I thought to myself: "Oh my goodness!!! There is someone else out there in the world like me!!! She just gets it!!!" (And yes, the exclamation points are no exaggeration. I was that excited.) There was also the little fact that her birthday was the day before mine. And that was just the beginning.
It took only a short time to realize that Christi had not only a brilliant mind, but she also had a most beautiful soul. Christi was known for saying, "I'm not sick, I just have cancer." She held lemonade stands to benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, blood drives to raise awareness about the importance of blood/platelet donations and she always comforted the other children undergoing cancer treatment-- by reading them stories, giving them homemade gifts or helping them decorate their hospital rooms. Christi lived with a mind full of wonder, a heart full of love and a soul full of faith.
I was inspired. I still am. A friend said to me today, "I hope you're having a very Christi day!" And as I was sitting here trying to figure out how best to honor Christi on her "angelversary", I realized that every day is a Christi day. Knowing Christi changed my life and shaped so much of what I do and who I am. I wake up (almost) every morning to go for a "Christi" run. My 4:30am madness where I get myself out of bed and on the treadmill and imagine her next to me as I prepare for my next Christi Thomas Memorial Run. On mornings when I am feeling particularly lazy, I picture her whispering into my ear: "You need to get up NOW! You can do this." And, she's always right. If she, and so many other brave warriors, could wake up each day and fight childhood cancer, then I can get up every morning to train for a race to raise money in her honor. Because of Christi I am now a regular platelet donor at MSKCC and I started volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House as well; it's where I met Ylaria. Through Christi I have met the most beautiful people who are now some of my dearest friends-- her family, Jennifer, Traci, Lisa, Irene, Shirley, Ylaria.
My life has been deeply blessed because of Christi. And while I have said bits and pieces of this in some way, shape or form in the past, I felt the need to honor Christi here today, to share her here with you, to put into words all that she means to me. And to thank her, for all of the moments she has inspired.