Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Good Samaritans

Posted By: Michelle Ashcraft

(Note: I realize that some of you have already heard part of this story, but keep reading - there’s more to it than what you’ve been told.)

By now most of you have probably figured out my training schedule. Off Monday, walk Tuesday, cross-train Wednesday, walk Thursday, cross-train Friday, walk Saturday, walk Monday … and then start the cycle over, adding mileage and cross-training time according to the training schedule each week. I had 21 miles to pack in this week and was surprised at how easy the walks were - even the 7 miles on Saturday! I finished each of my walks in record time, so the training is obviously paying off!

However, there was an “event” on Monday morning that set me back a bit. As most of you know, I work at the University of Kentucky in the Office of New Student and Parent Programs. Our office coordinates a variety of programs for new students and parents, but we do not coordinate Summer Advising Conferences (i.e. summer orientation/registration). However, our staff does make presentations to students and parents during those sessions. I was scheduled to present at a session for transfer students on Monday morning but wasn’t sure exactly where I needed to be and when. So, at 8:30 a.m. I set off to the building next door to find the folks that could tell me where to go. As I stepped off the elevator and looked out the glass doors to Patterson Office Tower my gaze fell upon a woman lying on the concrete plaza outside with all of her belongings strewn about around here.

I quickly ran outside and asked the woman if she was ok. She explained to me that she’d fallen and couldn’t get back up; she’d recently had knee replacement surgery, so she couldn’t bend her knee enough to help herself get back up on her feet. Of course I offered to help. This proved to be much more difficult than it sounds. My NKOTW family may refer to me as “Mighty Michelle,” but I am in fact “itty bitty,” as my coworker Nancy would say. Needless to say, I did not do a very good job of helping. I looked around in a desperate attempt to find some help and saw a man walking towards us past the Patterson statue. He was dressed up and carrying a portfolio, so I wondered if he also worked at UK. “Excuse me, sir,” I called out to him as he looked in our direction, “would you mind helping me help her get back up?” The response he uttered was, “No, I’m busy.” WHAT?! BUSY?! Of course the woman started crying at this point, obviously embarrassed and shocked that someone would say such a thing in her time of need. “Hold on one second, ma’am,” I said, and quickly walked inside POT to find additional help.

As soon as I walked in the door I saw a student sitting on a couch, typing on a computer with iPod buds in his ears. “Excuse me, sir,” I said, and he removed one ear bud. “There’s a woman out here who’s fallen. Would you be able to help me get her back up.” This time I got one word … “No.” And he put his ear bud back in his ear and went back to typing. I screamed “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!?” in my head as I looked around for another solution. I walked into the computer lab, grabbed a chair, and headed out the door. It took awhile, but with my meager muscles and support from the chair, the woman finally got back on her feet.

By this time of course, tears were streaming down her face. Luckily she wasn’t hurt (she said), but she was quite embarrassed. I tried to soothe her as much as I could and made sure there wasn’t anything else I could do for her. Then I headed straight up to the office to inform my coworkers that I’d just lost my faith in humanity. For the rest of the day I couldn’t get the image of that fallen woman or the responses of those two men out of my head.

You might be wondering what this has to do with my 3-Day journey. Everything. The 3-Day is what restored my faith in humanity this week. The miles that I walked last week were fun, but uneventful compared to previous walks. But kicking off my training this Tuesday renewed my spirits.

I saw a little boy chasing a little girl (who had obviously stolen his football), and then watched him help her back up after she fell in the grass (and giggled at how she hid the ball under her belly so he couldn’t steal it back). I saw an older brother teaching his younger sister how to ride a scooter, and watched him run beside her the whole way in case she happened to topple over. I saw a man offer to carry his elderly neighbor’s groceries into the house, and a woman pick up a toy from the street after the little girl in front of her accidentally dropped it. And finally, on my way home I saw a man pushing a woman in a wheelchair down the walking path. But this was no ordinary man, and no ordinary woman. The man who was pushing was blind, the woman in the wheelchair was mute. And yet they strolled together down the path. She was his eyes; he was her legs; and they communicated in their own language comprised of his words and her sounds. It was a beautiful site.

It was this final site that got me thinking that I shouldn’t let one bad incident ruin a lot of good that I’ve seen and experienced in the last couple of weeks. On Monday a colleague commented after hearing my story of the fallen woman, “So much for the Good Samaritan.” After my walk on Tuesday, I realized that I had seen a lot of them recently. Nearly two weeks ago a doctor at Good Samaritan Hospital (coincidence?) here in Lexington finally committed herself to helping me find an answer to stomach pains I have been experiencing for 4 years, and we’ve found the first component of the solution. Over the past week my sister and my friends Katharine, Mandie, and Shelley have offered support for me through a personal challenge. Tonight I came home to my Dad waiting to take me to dinner after having drove to Lexington today to spray my yard for weeds and bugs. And Tuesday’s walk showed me that my community is full of people who are willing to helps others, even if there are a couple of bad apples in the bunch.

And then I was reminded of all of you. The generosity that you have shown me throughout this journey thus far is overwhelming, and it continues to pour in. Each day I get good luck wishes in person, through texts, through e-mails, through Facebook, and through Twitter. Donations are still coming in despite my having reached my fundraising goal. My teammates answer my questions and calm my fears. You have all recognized a need - to end breast cancer, to support me in my journey, to simply help others - and you have responded. Thank you for not saying, “No, I’m busy.” Because of you, we will find a cure for breast cancer, and we will inspire others to help one another in times of need.

Fundraising Update and MANY Thanks
This week a VERY BIG THANK YOU goes out to Falon Thacker! Falon is a recent graduate of the University of Kentucky and worked with my colleagues and me in a variety of student leadership roles throughout her time as a student here. I am proud to say that Falon will be joining the student affairs profession when she joins University of Florida’s Master’s program this fall. Falon sent in a donation on HER birthday! What a selfless move! Thanks to Falon, we have now raised $2,323.25, which is 101% of my goal!

My NKOTW teammates have also has some fundraising success this week, bringing our group total to $5,800.25 - 28% of our total goal!

Breast Cancer Fact of the Week
(from Susan G. Komen Foundation) Women should have a clinical breast exam every three years after age 20, and every year after age 40. See your health care provider if:
- You find a lump, hard knot, or thickening in the breast(s)
- You have swelling, warmth, redness, or darkening of the breast(s)
- There is a change in size or shape of the breast(s)
- There is a dimpling or puckering of the skin on or around the breast(s)
- You have an itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple(s)
- You have pulling in of the nipple(s) or other parts of the breast(s)
- You have nipple discharge that develops suddenly
- You have new pain in one spot that doesn’t go away.

The Numbers
This week I walked 21 miles, or 60,676 steps. That brings my training totals to 96.61 miles and 222,487 steps!

Here’s to helping others this week! Happy walking!



  1. Loved hearing about the good things you saw this walk, especially after all the time we have spent in the office this week talking about the poor woman in the plaza. You may be "itty bitty" but we love you! :)

  2. Boo to the people who wouldn't help that woman, but I love that your stories always end with hope and inspiration.