TIJ Blog Post – James Gilliard: Saying Thanks


As we all grow up, there are many proper etiquette items that we are taught. Two of these relate to “please” and “thank you”. In the context of this blog post, “Can you please help me with [x]?” and “Thank you for your help with [y]!” While those may seem like simple things, they are both truly important as you move forward on your athletic path. And that’s true for everyone, not just athletes with disabilities (AWD).

Asking for help is sometimes just as challenging as deciding that you want to participate. This is because everyone’s at a different stage of dealing with their disabilities, and may not be ready to ask for help. They may not see or believe that they need it. Or it may be an issue of pride for them that they don’t want to ask for help. I dealt with some of that myself when I was a teenager, and originally said no to some of the help because I just wasn’t ready to admit that I needed it. I did a short time later, and have long since gotten comfortable with asking for the help I need. But I realize it may not be easy for some. The best suggestion I have for overcoming that is talk through what you need with family and friends, and have them be your sounding board. They’ll help to get you through the initial concerns / steps, and it’ll all work out well in the long run.

Once you get the help you need, you need to make sure that you thank those that have helped you. It doesn’t need to be huge or spectacular; it just needs to happen. Remember that the people associated with the race/event have helped you to have a great experience, and your guide(s) have given up their time to help you. At a bare minimum, say it verbally to them before you leave the race / part company with your guides.

While it can be as simple as that, you can get creative and as personal as you want. One thing that I do for all the Race Organizers (ROs) that have been kind enough to help me out is to send them at least one group photo from the race in addition to saying thanks. I feel it’s more personal than just a plain ‘thank you’ e-mail, and it shows them that I truly had a great experience. Another thing that I’ve started doing recently is finding the RO’s Twitter accounts and thanking them personally via after I’ve registered if they’re on Twitter. I’ve started doing that so others can see that that RO is receptive to AWDs. Hopefully that will get others to register. J

When it comes to your guides, find a personal way to thank them. Throughout the training process for the event/race, both of you should have gotten to know each other. Not just on a ‘this needs to be said at this point so we don’t stumble’ level, but also on a personal one. As I’ve trained with both of my coaches, we’ve had these, and so I’ve found personal ways to say thank you for their help.

To that point, I know that my current coach Terri is part of the Celebrate Differences 5K (http://www.celebratedifferences.org/5kinfo.html) race committee. As soon as I found out when the race was, I added it to my schedule, even though I had a 10K the day before. Now with a training run on Friday, I’ll have at least 20K of running throughout the weekend. The total distance doesn’t matter; the point here is that I wanted to help support someone who’s supported me. And after learning that Celebrate Differences will be the charity partner for the FraidyCat races (10K/5K/1M – http://www.fraidycat5k.com/) in October, I’ve already added that to my schedule. I will be registering for the Ghost Run 10K once registration officially opens.

So here’s the bottom line – please ask people for help when you need it, and say thank you to them when they do. While I had a long list of people I thanked in the ‘Athlete on the Move’ blog, I need to add one more. Thank you to Rachel Weeks for allowing me to share these blog posts on her site!