Oakdale Elementary Schools are once again at the ready for their annual Jog-a-Thon events this Friday, October 10. It is ‘the’ quintessential fundraiser for the Parent Teacher Clubs of each elementary school. I borrowed the theme from this year’s event to title this column. I like it. Together Everyone Achieves More or TEAM is the slogan which will appear on the ever popular jog shirts this year.
Simply put … it’s just plain fun, for both students as well as spectators. In the past 12 years of employment I have had the pleasure of attending these events as a reporter, as well as a mom and volunteer. In all honesty, it just never gets old.
This thought came to me while out for a run recently. Some days on a ‘good’ run day, you forget how old you are. You forget your body is a bit older and somewhat tired because you just feel like a kid. That’s the beauty of running.
As the thought crossed my mind, I contemplated whether or not to share these thoughts. Most especially since recently it was brought to my attention that there was some ‘displeasure’ with a past article I wrote which an individual shared on a few Social Media forums.
As the comments were shared with me by a few friends I could not help but smile and yes, even chuckle. That’s the beauty of working at a small town newspaper, we know not everyone will like what we write or agree with the ‘angle’ we choose. On some occasions, we don’t even pick the angle, it’s offered to us by an Editor, General Manager or school official who may have insight. In other words, we’re simply doing our job. Thick skin becomes a requirement rather quickly. Personally, displeasure or not, I’m just glad someone is reading and sharing my words (click through’s are good for our website, after all).
So as I ran and thought about the joy of those 2,600-plus kids running and walking around their grass fields I found my voice. Not all kids are runners. Not all kids want to win for running the most laps. Depending on the temperature and air quality that day a large number may (or should) walk more than run. The one thing which is undeniable is that they all have fun. I have yet to attend a Jog event with frowning kids. They all run different but one thing that’s unmistakable from campus to campus is the smiles and giggles. Yep, they just have fun.
That’s the message of this column. That’s what I want readers who may not attend an event to know. Yes, we live in a day and age where some are ‘concerned’ with over exerting our children. Make no mistake; no child is forced to run. No child is forced to fundraise. If they do ... run or fundraise … are they rewarded? Absolutely. The monies raised benefit their school sites and classrooms significantly. Therefore they are offered gratitude for their efforts in the way of ‘prizes.’ Some prizes are as simple as a slap bracelet or a homework pass, while others as elaborate as an iPad or Kindle.
As for the critics or the ‘haters’ (as the hip kids might say), thanks for sharing your displeasure in such a public forum. There’s an old journalistic adage that states, the day everyone starts liking your work you’re not doing your job adequately. So, for that I thank you – clearly I’m doing my job.
To the parents of the children I will spot and cheer for this Friday, thank you for letting them play and participate. As runners (when we get in a rut), we often remind one another to go watch a child. To witness the pure abandonment of criticism and just simply embrace the joy of the freedom. That’s what it’s all about.
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.