One of the more exciting bits of news that we have received since beginning this initiative was when I was contacted by Brooke Diller with the news that her father, Robert Diller, who was terminally ill with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and cancer, wanted to raise money for a cause that spoke to his faith. Brooke and her brother, Brent, had already decided to begin a team of runners that would raise money in honor of their father, but didn’t know where the money would go. Their initial thought was to put the money toward paying some of the medical bills that had built up over the years. Robert would have nothing to do with it! He recognized this as an opportunity to give to others (something he hadn’t been able to do recently). However, he too, didn’t know which organization to support. Robert got on the internet, found us, prayed about it, and decided that we were the cause that fit with his mission the most. He believed that he was being called to be a disciple of Christ by bringing others to Him through his illness and suffering and by supporting Run for the Call, he was supporting others who were answering their call as well. And so, the team that Brooke and Brent created joined forces with us at Run for the Call and our team grew exponentially!
I recognized it as a very special blessing and honor when I was first contacted, but nothing could have prepared me for what was going to happen next. This past Monday, I received the following email from Brooke:
I am just sending you an email for an update on Robert’s Runners-Run for the Call group. We are still getting more people signed up and raising a lot of support. We were so excited to do this run in honor of my dad, but now it looks like we will be doing it in memory of him. He passed away last Tuesday and we had his funeral this past Saturday.
The note ended with a message about how Robert spent his last days; a note I feel it important to share with you as it shows just what kind of man Robert truly was:
p.s. My dad was one pretty amazing faith filled man, who offered up his struggles down to his last moments and united them to the cross. We kept a journal of his last weeks here on earth at caringbridge.org/visit/bobdiller. Please check it out. We have a tape recorded message on there of dad saying a prayer when we asked him what he would say to all those, who were unable to see him in his final hours. It’s very powerful.
I think I can speak for just about anybody reading this that it is my privilege to have been touched by Robert’s life and it is with great honor that I share this beautiful prayer with you from the lips of a man who was able to find joy in his suffering to his very last breath.
Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord. Let perpetual light shine upon him.
I can’t help thinking this is why we are doing all this. We are running, we are raising money because we want people to know that they are being called to be disciples, right now! We are all called to live for Christ and bring others to Him no matter our circumstances or place in life. Whether we are seminarians studying to be priests, or we are religious sisters or college students or parents of toddlers, etc., we are called to be disciples; we are called to live for Christ and unite our life to His. Like Robert, may we each have the strength to do it!
Below is a portion of Robert’s personal prayer to all:
Thank you God for your blessings, your love, your glory
and your honor you have bestowed on me.
Help me to continue to be the shining light that you wish of me.
I want to spread your love, your joy,
and understanding to all.
Help me to do that please.
And bless those that are sick,
Those who are hurting
and those who need your understanding and blessings.
And help all of them find relief and joy from You through me.