They were all standing proudly side-by-side at the ready, their stares zeroing-in on the guns set neatly aligned on the grass 20 yards away. Their capes were blowing gently in the breeze; their shields glistened in the sun. These heroes had a job to do and if they failed, we’d all certainly die a horrible death. Everybody knew it: Death by zombie-infected bites. We all know how that ends and it’s not pretty.

The zombies were also waiting, disheveled and swaying in their staggered line. Their gazes were fixed half on the super heroes, and half staring blankly at nothing in particular. I felt sorry for them. From their clothes, I could imagine a life that was once theirs: a bride and groom, a well-dressed businessman, teenagers on their way to young adulthood, a pregnant woman out for a walk. Life can be so cruel.

The signal was given and the battle was on. The superheroes raced at the speed of light to their weapons, turned around and sought to destroy these groaning, grasping zombies who lunged at them. With their little 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old trigger-fingers activating as fast and accurately as they could, the heroes doused the zombies with tiny little water streams. One by one, the former living went down, but it wasn’t easy. It was a fight well fought with beautiful death scenes, as if they had been rehearsed before. Thank goodness for this victory, because if it weren’t for our young and fearless that afternoon, the next big event probably never would have happened due to zombie infestation.

It was the first annual Great Cape Escape. Here’s the idea: be a super hero and run a 5K/10K for a good cause. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much of a costume showing. I figured people would show up, check out the scene and say something like, “Next year. We should definitely dress up next year.” This was not the case, and I am happy to report that I felt underdressed in my purple cape and yellow arm bands. What was I thinking?! I couldn’t have found a headband or something? The heroes of the afternoon came out with custom-made t-shirts, headpieces, facemasks, tutus, leggings that matched capes, and even socks that had mini capes for good
ness sake. I mean there was even a dog that was more costumed up than me!  (Note to self: borrowing my 3-year-old nieces’ cape won’t cut it for next year.)GCE-185

If you recall earlier in this recap, there were a pack of zombies that were heroically slain on the field behind the Francis center. I don’t know how to say this, but well, they weren’t actually dead. I don’t know for sure the physiology behind why exactly water doesn’t kill people dressed up like zombies, but they all came back to life and most of them ran the race too. So there we were, putting our differences aside and zombies, super heroes, civilians, dogs and babies in strollers were doing a 5K/10K in harmony. It was beautiful.

Along the way, our fellow PA students who volunteer
ed for the day guided us all along the route with giant purple foam hands. It must be noted here that this particular afternoon was a hot one, hot and muggy. But every time I rounded a corner and looked up to see our people dancing on the sidewalk with these giant ridiculous foam appendages, it put a smile on my beet-red face and lifted my hot, sweaty spirit.

The heroes ran like the wind and the zombies ran faster than any living dead I have ever seen (except in “Dawn of the Dead”). But in the end, I think the hardest part of the race was deciding the winner of the costume contest. Prizes were awarded to the best group costume and best male and best female costume, as well as 1
st, 2nd and 3rd place runners for the 5K and 10K. Gift cards, mugs, metals, applauses and cheers were presented to the respective winners, but really everyone was a hero that day. From the runners, to the zombies, volunteers, supporters and vendors, even that good-looking dog that was better dressed than me. (I’ll show you up next year, dog. I promise.)

We are all stewards for the less fortunate in our community. The goings on of that day: the epic battle before the race, the race itself and the post-race fun, will last well beyond that one Sunday in September. Together, we raised $10,000 for the Open Door Clinic, which is a non-profit clinic serving the unde
rserved of Alamance County. Elon’s PA students volunteer there every Tuesday and Thursday nights, giving us a chance to appreciate what we learn in school. But now, all our efforts will continue beyond those two nights a week. That is at least until the zombie invasion of 2016.