Last month, team Dylan’s Wings of Change, came together and conquered the almost 200 mile course at Ragnar Relay Cape Cod to honor the memory Dylan Hockley, age 6 from Newtown, CT. Six months ago Dylan’s life, and the lives of 25 others, was cut short in the tragedy that took place in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. Team Run for Dylan was featured in the race day publication, the Ragmag at Ragnar Relay Cape Cod. The bravery, honesty, and emotion that this team was willing to share with their fellow runners touched both the staff at Ragnar, as well as anyone connected to the event. On the 6 month anniversary of this tragedy, we reached out to the team to find out how the experience of coming together as a team affected the healing process.
“We did (Ragnar) for Dylan,” said Jennifer Carello, a family friend of the Hockley’s and a member of the 12 person team. “We didn’t do Ragnar because we were runners.”
The team ran Ragnar to raise money for Dylan’s Wings of Change. The charity is dedicated to providing support for children with autism and other special needs and committed to positive change for the future. The goal is to ensure that these children can gain access to the vital services they require that enhance their ability to reach their personal potential and lead productive, fulfilling lives.
“We had been in a dark place and running this event brought us a little bit towards the light,” Jennifer said. Jennifer and her teammates, including Dylan’s father, collectively raised $20,042 and plan on doing the race again next year – they might even have 2 teams running for Dylan. You can still donate to their cause.
On Jennifer’s night run, her hardest leg of the race, her legs started cramping. “My legs hurt so bad,” Jennifer explained. “The only thing that kept me going was thinking about Dylan and the other children. The pain is nothing compared to the experience they had.”
Keeping Dylan in mind during the race kept Jennifer and her teammates going. One step at a time, the team is making the world a better place through Dylan’s legacy.
Each and every Ragnar runner has encountered “the dark place” at some point during their 200 mile journey. For many, it is the night leg. For others, it is running through the heat, or running through injury, pain, and even personal self-doubt. It is never easy to make it through these moments and having a team counting on you, supporting you, and walking/running along-side you has often been the key factor in making it through. It feels better on the other side, and maybe part of the appeal of these otherwise insane endeavors is the release you feel when you’ve made it through to the other side. With many during these dark moments, and certainly for Dylan’s Wings of Change, are the loved ones you hold dear. Sometimes it is the loss of a loved one. Sometimes it is for the hope of recovery. Sometimes it is just to find something inside of yourself that you weren’t even sure you were capable of. It’s personal and unique for every team.
Certainly for Team Dylan’s Wings of Change, it is a message of hope, loss, pain, and struggle. But also a chance to breathe in and breathe out for a purpose greater than ourselves. We hope that anyone running can find solace in the strength of teams like this; we hope they find joy in their journey too. One mile at a time.