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Bridget Fonger Headshot

People, People Who Need Cheerleaders

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At 4:55 p.m. today I was covered with sweat, standing at the Post Office mailing a package off to New York. Nothing was going to stop me from mailing that package today. Not even the fact that I had a 5:30 appointment about 20 minutes away and had just finished a very long and sweaty run.

My very favorite Post Office clerk sensed my urgency and asked "Where are you off to?" I told her it was a birthday party and then bemoaned the fact that I had 35 minutes to cool down, shower, dress, wrap the gift and get to the other side of town. I literally did not know how I could accomplish this. She exclaimed loudly, "YOU CAN DO IT!"

That one cheer spurred me on. I somehow made it to the event, miraculously missing all traffic and found a parking spot in front of the restaurant! As I opened the restaurant door and noted that I was only one minute late, I thought, "How the hell did that happen?" You just never know what possibilities will open up as a result of one good cheer.

The other night a similar miracle occurred. As I continue to work on my book, it's no big surprise that about six weeks ago I felt compelled to register for the L.A. Marathon. It's my first marathon and I haven't run for years, so I joined a running club. The group is called "Club Run With Us" which makes me slightly angry. It should be called "Club Race With Us" because they do not run, they race. That fact was very annoying for this novice slow poke until the other night.

We were running 6 miles in quarter mile increments that took us up and down a steep hill. So we were basically running in circles up and down the hill. I had had my worst run ever only a few days earlier, and experienced quite a bit of knee pain on hills less steep than this one. So I was concerned about 6 miles of up and down non-stop pounding on my knee.

I didn't factor in cheerleading, though. The "racers" who usually leave me in the dust were now passing me regularly in this loop. They cheered me on and I ran faster up and down this hill than I ever have, and with no pain. The one and only reason for this success is the cheers, the age old kindness of strangers. They slapped an Energizer battery pack on my back and propelled me forward.

You never know what a "You can do it!" or "Great job!" is going to do for people. On Facebook I received a "You got this!" when I announced that I had signed up for the marathon. That's a cheer that will stay with me to the finish line.

So remember, next time you cheer someone on, make it loud and make it clear because it may be making a difference in their lives for a very long time.

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