Michelle Page Alswager is not new to being involved, she is not new to making a difference, and she certainly is not new to incredible pain.
It stands for February 3rd (2/3….or 23). Today. This date 4 years ago was terror personified in Michelle’s life. It was on this day Michelle lost her son, Jesse. Michelle would say that she continues at the pace she does (which is rapid speed and unyielding—stop does not exist), because it keeps Jesse’s name in our eyes, it reminds us who he is.
You see, Mile 23 is a mile run in silent during any of the incredible bike rides you see happening around the country. From Death Valley to the NYC-Washington trip, these fabulous bikers raise an enormous amount of money to help diabetes causes; but yet it is Mile 23 that grabs our attention when at each given ride, this mile is done in complete silence. Just the chains rattling and the wheels spinning in absolute chilling harmony of tribute by groups of two wheelers.
This MILE 23 is a memory mile. A memory mile started in honor of the memory of an incredible young man named Jesse. Jesse passed away due to diabetes on February 3rd, 2010. His mom, Michelle, has made it a point to make sure that what happened to her family does not happen again. But it has. And now “that mile 23 for Jesse” is done for all who have lost this bitter battle of diabetes.
And to those who have had it happen, they have reached out to Michelle and Michelle has been there for them. She knows. And unless you have gone through it yourself, you would never understand. I do not understand; nor would I even begin to relay that I do, I don’t; …..truthfully…..may I never.
But Michelle has spent almost 4 years re-telling her story and re-motivating others to know that we all cannot stop and should not stop until a cure is found. She is a powerhouse of getting it done. So at every ride, Mile 23 is reserved for reflection of those who lost the battle but more so; to remind the rest of us the importance of doing what we can.
Every time I see the number 23, it reminds me of everything Michelle, The Nicholsons and so many others are yelling to us by their utter Mile 23 silence; “……do not stop. If we are not stopping–you have no right to stop.” And they would be 1000% correct, we have no right to stop. Don’t do nothing.
Michelle stated that she received a two page letter Jesse wrote from one of his teachers. She received it from teacher after he passed away. In the letter he said how proud he was of his mom for everything she did in his life. Because of this letter she states, “….I know he’ll be there, and he’s proud of me.”
Think about that for a moment, please.
He was proud of Michelle, his mom.
To the so many that redefined the meaning of a simple mile marker–number 23, especially Michelle Page Alswager, we are proud of her too Jesse. Thank you for lending your mom to the diabetes community and especially to Riding on Insulin where she gives so much of herself.. A labor-of-immeasurable-love that will make sure your voice and memory are never, ever, silenced……as long as we all see, and understand, a mile 23.
And if Michelle does all she does to keep moving; so must we. For what she does today; yes we owe that to Michelle, and we owe it to Jesse, and we owe it to our own children. And as long as my hands are able to write, this date will be remembered forever.
I am a diabetes dad.
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