Friday, January 28, 2011
That month of my life had some surprises, too many of them bad but one was a great one. I had run ultimate tournaments for a while and now had one named after me: Iram J. Leon’s Memority Celebrity Brain Tumor Awareness Pro-Am Fun Ultimate Hat Tournament for the Cure. My friends had in less than a month planned and executed a hat tournament to help with my bills. I found out when they announced it to the public and was a little annoyed and questioned why they had not asked me about this. They pointed out correctly that it was because I would have said no. But they proceeded anyway and while annoyed I was appreciative of it.
The day finally arrived and it looked incredibly promising. The tournament had filled up at 136 people. A friend had come from Pennsylvania, another from Chicago, another driven 8 hours each way (in one day), several from around Texas. The weather was gorgeous with a high of 76 in mid December. The tournament organizers had come up with a funny name for the tournament and a hilarious round of team names: J’s mom, Martha, Kiana’s grandma, J's wife’s mother in law, J’s hot wife, J’s adorable almost 4 year old, and J’s hot cousin.
This led to some of the best/most awkward cheers with the ultimate crowd keeping their irreverence. Some of my favorite/most uncomfortable cheers:
• Martha has a great personality.
• Nobody beats J’s wife.
• J’s mom's not a virgin.
• Let’s score on J’s wife.
• J’s wife is hot. J is not.
• Is the grandma a cougar?
The teams in the finals were J’s hot wife and Martha. It was my mother vs my wife, the epic battle of my life ;). In the end Martha won out in a good game and the finals comments were as funny/inappropriate: Martha likes it on top/J’s wife got sloppy seconds.
VC Ultimate, an organization that makes great jerseys and that I had always used, was kind enough to have donated some jerseys that went to the MVP of each team. Then the tournament did the fundraising presentation. Houston Ultimate had done their own drive and raised $888.88 and the Austin Ultimate organizing crowd raised over $8000. They said the vast majority of players had donated extra. In addition forty people who hadn’t played from as far as both coasts had also made donations. Having run some charity tourneys of my own (best one raising about 2 grand), I was blown away by this as my expectations were much lower. As they presented the two checks (gigantic fake checks), I was bowled over. Before that day, I could tell you the very few people who had ever seen me cry. Before today, there were only a couple of times in my entire life where I was speechless. Today they both happened simultaneously. I had been asked to prepare a few words and I had some one liners prepared but I couldn’t remember them and simply in the midst of tears thanked the community for the privilege of being part of them, said that I hope no one ever goes through something like this but that anyone who does should do it with this much support and then finished by saying something that in retrospect was not well thought out: that the winning team would be me and the other team was cancer because I was playing to win.
In talking to people throughout the day about cancer, repeating the jokes that I’ve been making for a while, hearing all these cheers and getting all this attention, it turned out to be the most surrreal day of my life but one of the best. That week had been the roughest in some ways but it ended on an incredibly high note. Not merely because the finances were less stressful but because I’d been humbled by the giganticness of people’s heart. Everyone kept saying that they loved that I was in good spirits, positive. I can’t imagine how anyone would be anything else: it takes a lot of effort to get to the bottom of a pile of dozens of people holding you up. It's much less energy to just be carried. My friends, my family they would elevate me, uplifting me and as high as they were supporting me, there was no way I could get to the bottom.
I had a win.