The Shamrock Shuffle

At 5:30AM on a Sunday, I am walking around Grant Park. Today is the day of the Shamrock Shuffle. There is fencing, markers, and tents everywhere, but people are only seen in discreet, distant patches along the walk. I imagine the scene that will take place later on in the day; masses of people, high-fiving and celebrating their accomplishment.

It is a moment that is built entirely on the efforts of the individuals that have been working since these early morning hours to organize the event. It is hard to tell who is crazier, the individuals that decide to wake up early and run five miles on their day off or the people that forego any reasonable amount of sleep to facilitate their running. Unfortunately, I was not able to choose. I was a member of the latter.

We approached the volunteer tent. Some people are mulling about and others are walking in every direction with purpose. We are handed our assignment: Aid Station #2. It is a post located at Van Buren and Wells. As I head to our post, I take in the tranquility of the city around me. It is a very strange feeling to see a city, that is normally so alive, completely dormant. Upon our arrival, we are greeted by Bernard. He is a charismatic individual with an infectious sense of energy and enthusiasm. He hands us our orders for the day and we go set up shop. Team UICCP is making, filling, and handing our Gatorade all day long.

By 6:30AM, our students arrive. They are ambitious despite the mundane nature of our task. They are aware that their role is important. We are all fast and efficient in our service. Eventually, our teamwork and performance seems less human and more like a machine. Everyone has their role. Without realizing it, hours have passed by, the sun is out, and the day is hot. It is time to clean up. We dump our Gatorade and have a brief talk about what we’ve done and why it is important. Then, there is a brief moment of silence. We all

stand and look around at one another, completely soaked in yellow Gatorade and realize, collectively, that our project has been a success.

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