Written by Bethany Lerch
When we arrived at Leach Amphitheater that morning, volunteers had already set up the course for the 3-6 year olds and 7-10 year olds. We were shown where to go and where to direct the kids when they were running. Then, as if on cue, “athletes” and their families began to stream in. They, too, were bundled up tight to stay warm. (Lots of animal hats with ears and eyes on them.)
Children ages 3-6 ran one loop through the park, but 7-8 year olds had to run one half mile along the river to the bridge and back. The “big kids” had to do two of those laps. It was one thing to tell the smaller children to “Turn here!” and “Go this way!” and quite another to cheer on the ones that had to go a longer distance.
I surprised myself, actually, and got really excited for the 9-10 year olds who had to go twice around, running from one side of their “route” to the other to cheer them on. The track captain in me came out in full force as I yelled for the rosie-cheeked young bucks to “Pump your arms!” and “Keep going! You’re almost there!”
I think I was as exhilarated for those kids as they were to be running the race. Maybe more. It was just a couple hours of my morning, but those kids and their wide smiles made my day.
It was a small kind of rush and I left feeling a very real kind of happy inside, uplifted even. Thank you Brandon, Michelle, Virginia and Crystal for toughing it out in the cold with me that morning. And many thanks to the Christine Ann Center for giving us the opportunity to do it.