Tour of Anchorage Ski Race Helps Team Raise Cancer Awareness
Local man who died of leukemia’s presence still felt on course
Several skiers glided down the trail behind her but she remained lost in thought. Further down the path stood a third sign: “Bill says… on the wings of angels, we will finish.”
A smiling, angelic stick figure drawn on the front was adorned with purple, green and blue angel wings.
Although she wasn’t skiing the Tour of Anchorage trail Sunday, Gill said standing on the sidelines was just as difficult. She said she had uncovered an old batch of photos on her computer the other day, all taken during the last 48 hours of Bill’s life.
“It just brought all that back and made it painful again,” she said slowly, looking back across the lagoon and blinking back tears again.
In a way, she said the men and women sliding by her on quiet skis reminded her of Bill.
“I feel it in every Team In Training person I see,” she said. “Whether it’s here at Tour of Anchorage or Mayor’s [Marathon] where there’ll be like 500 of them, or when I go to San Francisco and I’m surrounded by 5,000. Everywhere you go it’s all hope, wrapped up in a purple package.”
There was nothing doctors could do to improve Bill’s condition in the years leading up to his death, and Gill said her husband hoped for the day others would be given some kind of option or even a little hope when they walked through the hospital doors. Through research funded by Team In Training, she said his wish was being realized.
At the very north end of Westchester Lagoon stood the final sign. It was larger than the others, and the afternoon sun glared off the white poster board. Instead of a crudely drawn stick figure it displayed three pictures of a smiling man with sparse gray hair. In one picture, wearing a green polo shirt and neat khakis, he leaned heavily on an IV rack next to him and shook a pair of pom-poms identical to Gill’s.
In another photo, he smiled weakly and looked tired, and sat propped up in a sea of starched white sheets. Underneath, a date was penned in neat purple Sharpie: 5/28/10.
The caption was simple: “Bill says thank you.”