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Peace Out From Team Peri (Or So We Thought)

If you don't know who Team Peri is and just peruse this blog as a source of entertainment, you've been living under a rock. I won't bore you with the details (you can explore our website for all the deets), but I will say no means did I ever mean to brand my name. When I took over Team Peri's marketing and fundraising endeavors in 2017, I immediately knew how I wanted to transform the brand and make it my own. But what I did not mean to do was to become the face of the brand. My whole life (and even now), I have shied away from being the center of attention and showing my vulnerability. It dawned on me that while fundraising for a cause is worthy of discussion, no one was interested in hearing about my team; they wanted to hear more about my personal story. Team Peri has raised over $895,000 for Chai Lifeline/Team Lifeline since 2010. While yes, I am 'the' Peri, I don't feel like an inspiration, as everyone always says, as this is just my life. Every day is a deja vu; medical treatments, doctor appointments, therapies, school, work assignments, repeat. But I digress.

It wasn't until 2020 that I decided to, so to speak, "step out of line" and embrace myself and truly be transparent. I am no longer afraid of my shadow or sharing pieces of my life. Of course, I still get incredibly red in the face in the spotlight and sweat under one armpit due to nerves (sometimes two if it's a high-stakes situation), and I still get somewhat shy in public. But I know that I can do this now. I can be the change. I have ideas. I have goals and dreams. I have a voice. Team Peri is my life's work, and the Team Lifeline Miami Marathon is what inspired it all and I will be forever grateful.

Always Out of Line

Do you know the beauty of the "step out of line" mantra inspired by the marvelous Alex Borstein? Once you accept and realize that no matter what you do, you will never truly be in line, it's a game changer - a mindset.

Back to Miami, where chaos ensues and the coveted Miami Marathon weekend is underway. We arrived at The Trump National Doral with enough luggage to scare bellhop people away (which, no doubt, we did). Attempting to pretend everything was normal and we did not look like trainwrecks, we beelined to our hotel rooms to re-set up our makeshift ICU (again). Accessibility-wise, the Doral had many faults, all of which were discussed with Trump Hotel's leadership team to assist in creating a more inclusive and accessible hotel for all. Kudos to Trump Hotel’s team of leaders who bravely faced the music and care that changes must be made. The highlights of inaccessibility: the toilet was way too close to the bathroom door, the shower had a 90-pound megaphone shower wand (perfect if you're low tone where even my strength trainer, who is full of muscle, had issues with it), and the actual toilet seat did not accept my adjustable reducer ring and, instead, decided to become a killer toilet (and that’s exactly how I wanted to die). Fortunately, our room overlooked the Team Lifeline area, so the 400 runners and guests heard our medical equipment throughout the day and night.

Thursday was mostly a washout since we were all worried sick about our pup, Toula, who had to have an emergency spaying surgery back in New York (which went well). From Thursday to Friday, we explored the grounds to get the lay of the land with bikes rented at the hotel. For me, the high point of the vacation was biking around the golf course and finding my brother Joel struggling to get his golf cart moving again after driving out of bounds and disabling the engine. I got it on video. No need to worry.

Friday, we biked around the hotel again, this time with my strength trainer/physical therapist/Team Peri trainer, and runner, Amanda. Unfortunately, we got lost on the golf course, where my father led us onto the actual green, and we were nicely asked to leave the area. I might have accidentally left wheel marks on the course from my 300-pound wheelchair, but it was all worthwhile. Being able to be included meant everything to me. That is what inclusion is all about. Yes, we were out of line on the course, but it was just a nice touch to add to our list of misfortunate events, as it definitely set the tone for the weekend.

Team Peri X Team Lifeline X Miami Marathon

If you are new to Team Peri, you might not know I used to walk in the Miami Half Marathon. I would come out of my jogging stroller, transfer to my walker/gait trainer and transform into that ‘marathon girl.’ From 1,000 steps to 1 Mile and 1.5 Miles, I have always completed a feat. However, these past two years, I have not been able to walk due to medical issues. While there is more to that story, I wish to be that girl again. Unfortunately, what I thought would be my comeback year, 2023 was not it.

The Team Lifeline weekend, in terms of accessibility, went flawlessly. The staff went above and beyond to ensure everything was accessible to me. I have been attending/participating in the marathon weekend for the past thirteen years, and we have never seen it like this before. The Doral was spacious, and everything was planned so anyone with mobility issues could have equal access to all the weekend had to offer. Amanda and I dined alfresco on Friday night (Shabbat dinner) away from the COVIDness. Saturday during the day, we hung/hid from chaos in a Cabana, courtesy of Trump leadership, for all our accessibility woes (shoutout to our girl, Margot Barry, for making it all happen). Chilled on the terrace Saturday Night for a pre-pasta party and lounged in the pool on Sunday post-marathon.

Miami Marathon day started with my dad and Joel unexpectedly deciding to do the half-marathon even though they did not train. At all. There is a strong possibility that we air-tagged my dad in case disaster would strike. The day started off with making friends with our bus driver, who never saw anyone fangirl over an accessible Miami University bus. It's the little things, you know.

This year, I thought this would be our last year with Team Lifeline as I branch out and pursue my dreams, hence the ‘peace out’ motto we captured in every picture. But, thanks to Eli Spirn from Team Lifeline, who hustled and took everything single issue we had in the past, we will be back, as we can't imagine our life without the marathon weekend. Even the roosters at our cheering spot at Mile 12 (where our team meets up to walk the last mile of the race as one) at the courthouse were rooting for our runners. I would not be here or who I am today without my Miami Marathon and Team Lifeline family, all 60,000+ of you (I owe it to Team Lifeline's Moshe Turk and Mr. Miami Marathon himself, Frankie Ruiz).

That's a wrap. ✌🏻 till January 28, 2024. I plan on participating in the marathon again. My goal is to simply take a step or two on my own terms with my team alongside me, as they always have been. But this time, Team Peri will transition to our new name, the Team Peri Foundation, and as you would expect, continue to step out of line.

Where to Next?

This is #TalesofWanderlust by Peri. XX


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