Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
It stinks not having a Wintersköl parade for the first time since, well, Wintersköl began.
It’s another of many milestones reached in a town that used to exist comfortably between just a few with room to spare. It’s one more reminder of all the cool local podunk events we create and then gradually ignore until they fall off the to-do list and are replaced by free barbecues sponsored by a quasi-official local organization and then lamented over in a few semi-passionate letters to the editor that cause us to drop a quick prayer begging that we might never lose our own sanity. But, as useless as sentimentality is in preserving those things we think we love, perspective is what allows us to move on before we are reduced to making emotional speeches in front of City Council while fellow concerned citizens peruse the local newspapers in the back of the room in a show of lukewarm solidarity.
Yes, the loss of a midwinter parade that was mostly enjoyed the following day on a page 3 photo spread is a bummer. But, being 16 and stricken with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a bigger bummer. Remember? That’s the disease that kills kids (mostly boys) before they become adults. One of my young friends in town has it now. Another died from it when we were both kids. Talk about losing community spirit.
So, bummers come in all shapes and magnitudes, and I am not about to tell anyone how bummed out they should get over any particular bummer. From what I can tell, there are plenty to go around; some we have only ourselves to blame for, and some show up out of the blue in a blood test one day when we take our kid to the doctor because he is having a little trouble keeping up in gym class. Unfortunately, you don’t get to choose the kind you have to deal with, not even in Aspen.
Fortunately, however, you do get to choose how you deal with bummers. And many times, if you are extremely blessed, you get the opportunity to help with other people’s bummers, too. I suppose you could call that a bum wrap, as in “we’re all in this together,” but that phrase has already been misapplied, if only phonetically, to describe convicts and gray cloud manufacturers who believe that they have been framed or singled out for shouldering a disproportionate share of the world’s misery. For them there is the appeals process of our judicial system and 90-day self-help programs online. For the rest of us there is opportunity to do something.
Who says that nothing meaningful can be done to help people afflicted with incurable diseases? Most people who have them don’t think like that. Who are we to tell them they’re wrong? And, remember, actions speak louder than words. Doing nothing is pretty much the same as saying it’s a lost cause in my book … and Lance’s, too! I would love to play kick the lard cans with people who believe that giving money for finding cures and treatments for terminal diseases is just paying off guilt over having their own good health. It’s got to be more than that. Way more! When you get behind a cause, you have to believe!
Do you believe? Since last January’s Hike for Hope fundraiser for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, an international research team has made what is being described as the biggest breakthrough ever in discovering a treatment for this horrific child-killing malady. It’s called exon skipping and basically patches over gene mutations that cause the disease. It has shown dramatic effects in the prevention and treatment in severely affected mice and dogs; stopping deterioration of the treated animals while significantly extending their lifespan. The research has recently entered the human trial phase. Doctors say this treatment could help up to 90 percent of children affected by this relentlessly progressive muscle-wasting disorder that has stymied researchers for decades.
Do you believe now?! Since the last time the ample heart of this community came together, thumping and pumping itself up Buttermilk Mountain for this cause, an incredible breakthrough has occurred for which the spending of your strength, emotions, and support are beginning, in a huge way, to pay off. What researchers and doctors are doing is working. What you are doing is working. This is not the time to pace ourselves. It is the time to give a little kick to see if we can finish this marathon faster than anticipated.
Now for that other little bummer we talked about – the Wintersköl parade. Look, not to sound too confident or anything, but if we can make such incredible progress in the fight against a horrendous disease like Duchenne MD, I think we might be able to salvage a silly small-town parade. OK, OK, it’s not silly. I really miss it, too.
How about this: Let’s pretend this year’s Hike for Hope is the parade. It starts up Buttermilk at 7:30 a.m. this Sunday morning. It ends at the Cliff House, where a pancake breakfast will be waiting (for a minimal charge). You might even win one of the many prizes being raffled. Dress up, or down. Bring your dog in a tutu. Decorate your skis or poles. Ride the lift to the top playing John Denver songs on a kazoo. Wear a mask and run up the mountain naked. Race to take home some hardware or stroll to take in the scenery. I don’t care, and neither will anybody else. Just be there to participate, celebrate, and hope … everything you give – prayers, moral support, and cash donations – go 100 percent to fight Duchenne MD!
And by the way, here’s to hoping that Hike for Hope soon becomes one of those really special events that we can forget about and replace with a celebratory community barbecue. I know a kid who might like to give the three-legged race a try.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused untold amounts of suffering and disruption, and we’ll probably tell those stories for the rest of our lives.