The concept of Wriststrong bracelets began as a gag on ‘The Colbert Report” after host Stephen Colbert — a faux conservative TV pundit whose act is part Bill O’Reilly, part Keith Olbermann — broke his wrist and needed a way to entertain his audience.
In an obvious spoof of Lance Armstrong’s yellow “Livestrong” bracelets that became an international symbol for cancer awareness, Colbert launched the “Wriststrong” campaign — featuring red wristbands — to raise awareness of wrist injuries.
It’s worth noting that the proceeds of Colbert’s wristbands don’t pad his pocket. They go to the Yellow Ribbon Fund, a charity that provides lodging for the families of wounded soldiers who are receiving treatment at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C.
I ordered one in early 2008 for a combination of reasons. First, because the money went to a good cause; second, because of the obvious correlation to my last name.
In the nearly three years that I’ve had the band, it has only come off my wrist a handful of times when it slipped off accidentally.
In a sense, it has been a personal motto. I’ve always believed myself to be a strong person who can do anything I put my mind to, and its motto on my wrist has been a daily reminder.
The band has been on my wrist during great times and challenging times. It was on my right wrist while trekking in the backcountry at Denali National Park in Alaska. It accompanied me up multiple peaks in the Swiss Alps. It was on my wrist every step of the way up Mount Kilimanjaro and back down.
It made its last go-round with me on Saturday when I ran my first-ever 10K race, the Pilgrim Pacer in Lee’s Summit, Mo. The race went much better than I’d expected, especially considering the 38-degree temperature. I clocked a time of 49 minutes, 57.1 seconds, and finished sixth in my age group and 30th overall out of 172 runners.
Today the Wriststrong band was handed off from me to my mom. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in late May, and in the months since then the band served more as a daily reminder of mom and her battle than it did as a symbol of personal strength. The years of wear and sun exposure caused the band’s bright red color to fade to more of a pink — the color representing breast cancer.
I recently purchased a few shiny new Wriststrong bands for the rest of my family to wear as a sign of strength for mom. Mom wanted a pink one, so I gave her my well-worn one and snapped on a new one.
The bands have taken on a new sense of family strength and unity, and I know mom’s will bring her good luck. She’s a strong woman — and she certainly doesn’t need a wrist band to remind her of that — but the band was on my wrist through numerous adventures and while conquering many mountains. Now it’s going to be there while she overcomes the greatest challenge she and our family have ever experienced.