It’s a story which has been told before, yet oddly less than 24 hours before readers pick up the pages of our paper I feel compelled to tell it again.
Life is funny that way. Sometimes we hear stories more than once (at least in my family we do), yet often times the take away from the very same story can be a bit different.
Tuesday morning, as my children busied themselves getting ready for school I began with my usual Tuesday morning routine – a cup of coffee and checking work e-mail. My work day starts early on Tuesdays, as deadlines loom and readers wait.
Among the many e-mails waiting were several regarding the 10th Annual SOS (Support Oakdale Schools) Fun Run this Saturday, March 9. As I read through the e-mails the past 10 years quickly flooded my brain and then … Gratitude sank in.
A friend had questioned my accuracy. Ten years, was I sure? The first event was in 2010, it’s now 2019. Simple math of course shows us that is a nine-year difference, yet as we count actually years, we come up with ten.
This is also where it becomes a bit personal, as I vividly recall the first event in 2010 and walking the 5k with my then family of four. My daughter (now 11) was not yet three at the time and I pushed her through the course in her stroller. Her father keeping a close eye on her older brother (now 14), who was just five at the time.
The life changing moment came for me, as well as my family at the finish line. Approached by the daughter of a friend who shared the following year she wanted to run the mile. At the time of this conversation, I had no active life and a waistline which was out of control. Tipping the scales at over 240 pounds, I told the youngster I’d run the mile with her.
This is where my eyes honestly start to leak, as I think of all that has changed not just in my life but the lives of many as a result of that day. That simple promise to that young girl, caused me to begin a healthier way of living.
Determined to hold true to my promise and return to the body I missed, my life changed. In time so too did my marital status and by the second annual event I was 50 pounds lighter and a single mom.
The journey between 2011 and present day has truly been one for the record books or perhaps a “feel good” Hallmark movie. That promise and this event took me to a whole new way of life. Since that day I’ve run more races than I can count and so have my children. I’ve completed four Full Marathons, as well as two 21-mile races, with the third coming this April. I’ve also been lucky enough to be selected to run the Chicago Marathon this fall.
It all started here.
Not to be confused however, the accomplishments speak well of how one “small” event had the ability to physically change lives. The goal, however, of the event early on was to offer local families a healthy fun event, while raising money for Oakdale schools. Simply put, it was for the students (and their families) – mission accomplished.
Now as the mother of two such students here comes the testimony which makes my eyes leak. Had it not been for that crazy group of friends who had this not so “simple” idea 11 years ago, there’s a lot of benefits our students may not have experienced. The event in and of itself is one which families have turned into tradition. The funds raised however have awarded our children numerous opportunities beyond the classroom thanks to grant money.
Ultimately the event has become what so many community events have been known for in this town, a true win/win thanks to the efforts of volunteers, sponsors and community support.
So what does this all mean? For this mom of two, whose life was actually changed from one such event it’s really quite simple. You never truly know when your crazy idea or selfless act may have a profound effect on another. Let that sink in a little. This committee did not sit around in the wee hours 11 years ago and think about how big this might get, about the attention they might personally receive, they simply thought of the students.
In so doing the ripple effect became a large wave. One such student was the reason I showed up for the second year. Now, this Saturday I will show up, yet again with my now 11- and 14-year-olds to run the course. No longer do we have a goal of “completing a mile.” Now we simply show up for race day to celebrate our community, its supporters and our district one mile at a time.
Thank you SOS Fun Run founders, early sponsors and every volunteer who has ever given an ounce of effort to this wonderful event. Whether you’ve known it or not your selflessness is appreciated and this mom turned runner is just simply – grateful. See you Saturday.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.