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Four Years at the Mount

Senior Year

Quality Time with Quality Friends

Nicole Jones
Class of 2014

(12/2013) Senior year has proven to be the most stressful year of my life. Between 15 credits, 5 graduate school applications, 3 jobs, and a social life, sometimes itís hard to stay positive and motivated. I know many of my fellow seniors are in the same boat of stress (some are even overboard with a life vest), but when all is said and done, Iíve only found one thing that truly helps: spending quality time with the right people.

Of course, this has a different definition to different people and scenarios. Sometimes all I need is someone to listen to my concerns and nod attentively at all the right moments. Other days, I need someone to go on an off-campus adventure with to break free from the constraints of academic responsibilities. This semester has been filled with opportunities for me to both give and receive these gifts of quality time with others, the most recent of which was a trip to Baltimore, MD, for an exciting first attempt at running a 5k.

Most of my friends are active individuals who enjoy a personal challenge, be it intellectual or physical. New experiences are an exciting part of daily life as one of their companions, so naturally there came a time when we decided to run a 5k together. After looking around at different runs both on and off campus, we settled on the Color Run.

The Color Run is a 5k race that travels the world celebrating healthiness and happiness as well as supporting a local charity in its host city. The Baltimore race supported the Cool Kids Campaign, a charity that supports pediatric oncology patients and their families by providing resources for educational, social and emotional support.

We woke up Sunday, Nov. 17 at five in the morning. I had only had five hours of sleep the night before, but with a thermos of hot walnut tea, I sleepily climbed into my friendís car and took over the navigation system. Some impromptu karaoke and an hour-long car ride later, we found ourselves in the foggy streets of Baltimoreís Inner Harbor.

Winding our way to Camden Yards, we gradually began to see fellow Color Runners dressed in white, prepared for the shower of color that was about to stain their day the colors of the rainbow. We stretched and warmed our muscles, jogged in place, and took pictures before being swept away in a herd of bodies pressing towards the start line. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO! A thunderous cheer sent off wave after wave of runners. Packets of colored powder were tossed in the air, dusting the ground with pink, blue, and green.

I jogged past the walkers on the right-hand side of the fenced-off path. My friends and I sang along with the music blasting over the speakers placed along the path. Then we saw it. A cloud of yellow appeared ahead of us. We tossed our hands into the air and ran faster as pediatric oncology patients released an endless stream of yellow powder. I ran through the cloud, cheering on my attackers and enjoying the smiles the color brought to their faces. Yellow, purple, pink, orange, and blue. The finish line welcomed us with a block party, where more color was thrown, circus performers dazzled, and my friends danced, sang and took endless photos together.

When it was time to leave, we wore our colors proudly through the streets of Baltimore, stopping at the local Panera Bread for a much needed repast. Others looked at us with varying degrees of interest. Some people laughed, businesspersons gave us a wide berth for fear of ruining their suit, and children smiled. My favorite people were those who actually asked what the run was about.

"What do you mean what is it about?" I had asked the first person who asked me this as I washed my hands in the bathroom, sending a swirling pool of blackish blue water down the drain.

"Whatís it for? Why do you do it?" asked the lady with a curious smile as she waited for the sink with a toddler on her arm.

"WellÖ we sort of just did it for fun to try something new, but it also supports a great cause: The Cool Kids Campaign, which supports pediatric cancer survivors," I explained. This young mother was only the beginning of the inundation of questions and curious glances. During our meal, at the crosswalk back to our parking spot, even once we returned to campus, everywhere we went people asked us what it was we stood for. Cool Kids. I was excited to advocate the cause.

It was incredible to think how the simple act of wanting to try something new with my friends like running a 5k could have a much larger impact. Just by having fun with my friends, I suddenly became part of a cause much greater than myself. Soon, it was easy to spout off what my vibrant colors meant. I told fellow Panera customers, the people shopping the streets of the Baltimore Inner Harbor, and the cashier at my campus food court. Everyone supported it. Some people had participated before. Others had connections to Cool Kids and were excited to meet fellow supporters. I was excited to be so incredibly blessed to have experienced the gift of quality time with my friends while still being able to give back to a community in need.

What inspires me the most is that I was not actually seeking to give in this situation. I was merely seeking a fun time, time with friends and time away from schoolwork. While I did have this "me" time, the Color Run surprised me by reversing my role from receiver into giver. I was unexpectedly able to give back, advocating a cause from Baltimore and Emmitsburg alike and leaving people with a positive and colorful impression they wonít soon forget. It showed me that every situation is an opportunity to give, even when we are seeking only to receive. There is always something more we can do for the others around us. I encourage you to take the holidays as a chance to do that extra something for someone in your life, or even for the unsuspecting stranger. Youíll both be glad you did.

Read other articles by Nicole Jones