I’ve adopted a lot of “mothers” along this journey, but none as feisty as Phyllis. This wonderful momma bear not only took care of me, but it seems she takes care of the whole neighborhood. A computer engineer by trade, she has become a bit of a real estate magnate, and has used her business savvy to keep her friends close and her family closer. Her brother lives across the street, and her mother next door. My friend JC always said that he wanted to to own a whole housing subdivision and and have all his friends and family live on the same street. That way every night could be a block party. Phyllis did just that.

John Singleton, while bringing attention to the problems of inner city Los Angeles in “Boyz ‘n the Hood”, he also tarnished the possibility that Compton in the collective consciousness of all people would ever be seen as anything more than a war zone. It was important to me to run though central LA and Compton to prove to many that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. People around the world are good regardless of the neighborhood they live in. In fact, people in LA and especially Compton have been the most friendly of any place I’ve run so far.

Phyllis is an amazing woman by any standard. One of the things that endeared me to her is how she takes care of all those with whom she has contact. Phyllis has compassion for everyone, but especially for a single mom with a little girl named Ashley. Ashley’s mom is a nurse and as such works 12  hour days, in addition her mother is going back to school to get even more education. She drops Ashley at Phyllis’s house at 6 in the morning, and picks her up at 7 at night. Phyllis makes sure Ashley is fed and has done her homework. Phyllis has compassion, she said, “Us single mom’s have to stick together.”

I was honored to watch as Phyllis in action, a compassionate giver she took care and fed me, Ashley, Ashley’s mom, Wayne, Mark, and about 3 other people all in one night. She even arranged for me to do a facetime video chat with some of my old gymnasts in San Francisco. It is people like Phyllis that remind me why that it isn’t my story that needs to be documented along this journey. It is the stories of amazing people doing compassionate acts on a daily basis that are the source of my inspiration and rejuvenation.