On Saturday morning I took part in a 5k that I'll likely never forget. It wasn't timed, there was no swag bag and the course wasn't particularly scenic. It was in my town, put together by mothers, in honor of some very special people.
A 5k in Newtown, Connecticut was planned for January 19th, but for a variety of reasons, an "official" run couldn't be held so the
organizers encouraged other communities to have 5ks of their
own in honor of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. Some amazing
women in my community - the Niskayuna Moms on the Run, decided to put
together their own 5k and 1 mile walk, and at the urging of those organizing the Newtown
event, donate proceeds locally as well. A $25 donation was suggested;
the money went to build a memorial in Newtown, to the local fire
department, and to a program at a middle school in Niskayuna that a
local girl, who just passed away, was a part of.
I was touched, and my eyes teared as people spoke before the race -
about Sandy Hook, about 14-year-old Grace who recently passed (she loved
going to a local party store and an employee recalled how she'd visit
weekly and loved filling up her balloons - they handed out pink and purple balloons after the run) and they spoke about "helpers," and quoted this from Mr. Rogers:
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my
mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find
people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of
"disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by
realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people
in this world."
Fred Rogers' words were "shared" and "retweeted" on social media a lot around the time of the Sandy Hook tragedy, but no matter how many times I read and hear it, I get emotional because it emphasizes the good in people, the good in most people. The good in the organizers and in those that ran and walked and donated on Saturday.
When I got home I gave my purple balloon to the little guy. I was happy to watch him drag it around all day; grateful we live in the community we do.
I was recently asked by a friend to be the co-director of a 5k that will take place in our area in September. I was slightly hesitant at first to do it; afraid of being overwhelmed by the work it takes to put something like that together, but after Saturday, and after taking part in other races that benefit great causes, I couldn't feel better about my decision.