Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Strength, determination, pride, and Quest

I realize this blog has suffered since I took on the job as Executive Director of the Fitness Council  of  Jackson. Over the past 8 months so many new things have been going on for me, things that could have been wonderful content for this blog. But my inspiration and motivation have been low, as my brain has been filled with so many new and interesting challenges. But there is one thing that I just can't let go by unreflected. Read on as I tell you the story that makes me so happy to get to do the job that I do. 

Recently was Fitness Council's Spirit Run 5K, the culminating race for our Girl Quest Boy Quest program.  GQBQ is an after school running program where teams of 15 kids in grades 3-7 train for 10 weeks to run a 5K race. Over the course of these 10 weeks, with their volunteer coach, they learn teamwork skills, healthy living habits, goal setting, and confidence. Our curriculum is full of activities and exercises that are meant to teach kids these life skills alongside their running training. The Spirit Run is the race we put on for the 300+ kids and coaches participating in our program this spring.

As I stood at the finish line and watched as child after child ran with all that had in them down the last 100 feet of the race, I found myself choking back tears. Even as I type this, I revisited by the feeling of pride that I have in these children. 

For those of you who know me, you might know that youth development is a huge passion of mine. I've worked or volunteered with youth in some form for the past 10 years.  My more recent volunteer work, I've been leading a Girl Scout troop. While I love helping to expose these girls to new experiences and ideas, there is nothing quite like watching a child run across a finish line. When you see another human being with a red and sweaty face, expressing a look of determination, trying their hardest to finish off just the last few feet, you know you are seeing them for what they truly are. Only human. And when they stop, look around and catch their breath, they can't be more proud and neither can you. 

I saw coach after coach run through the finish line only to run back out to the course to find more of their team members to run along side as they finished the race. I have great admiration in these adults who lead these kids down this journey of giving it all you have. As they ran alongside each child they looked upon them with a devotion that would not quit.  

For anyone that's ever had to push themselves to finish a race, or push themselves to finish anything for that matter, they know it takes a lot of strength. These kids each had the maturity and endurance to  to finish what they started. I can't say for sure, but I sure can hope that the kids who complete this program can go on to lead healthy lives. And know that they can accomplish something through hard work and dedication.