Next Tuesday a milestone will be realized when GO FAR celebrates its 15th year of impacting our local kids with the gift of running.
I can still remember the day Robin Lindsay walked into our Foundation office and presented her vision. Robin is a pretty, very fit and energetic Physician’s Assistant who looks like she could crank out a 20-mile run at the drop of hat. Her passion for kids and commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles was immediately evident. I’m proud to say our Community Foundation was their very first big grant. What happened next is a remarkable story of how Robin’s vision and the leadership of Julie Hill and Sarah Beth Davis have literally transformed the lives of over 8,000 youngsters!
On the outset you might ask how the simple act of running can significantly alter a child’s life. As life-long runner, I can personally attest to its positive impact of structure, discipline and, of course, the health benefits. There is also the silent epidemic that is causing unprecedented increases in childhood obesity which is creating dramatically lower fitness levels, a higher incidence of diabetes and even heart disease. We can thank our predilection toward sedentary pursuits like social media, computer games and our ever increasing addiction to junk foods.
Over the years I have seen the GO FAR program bring much needed change to the lives of our young people and their families. They provide running shoes, training, mentoring and motivation, but the most exciting part is watching a youngster begin to see what a little bit of training can do for their bodies and minds. Suddenly they have more confidence, not just in their physicality, but also in their self-image which directly impacts behavior. Perhaps most importantly of all, GO FAR teaches kids to set goals, to stick with a program and ultimately to experience the exhilaration of completing their goal of finishing their first race.
As I look back in my life I have memories and experiences through running that are absolutely priceless. Like doing our annual 10-mile run among the luminaires on Christmas Eve with my father striding beside me. Racing in high school at the New Hampshire State Cross Country meet with my teammates and later in the spring finishing our first marathon together. Jogging down Otteray Drive as a young adult with the autumn leaves on fire with my beautiful, young bride, Jayne and our beloved golden retriever leading the way. Then, running the Umstead 100 miler in my latter years where my young son saw me at mile 60 and innocently inquired as to why I was running so slowly. Or, later that evening, at 2:30 am, as I doggedly shuffled through the silent woods and shared a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a magnificent buck who was standing transfixed on the trail before me. These experiences transcend sport and create a heightened awareness of life’s possibilities, sacred moments and our own God-given potential.
Give the gift of running through GO FAR
As we seek to improve the quality of life in our community a program like Go Far is so critical to the overall health of our future generations. Perhaps most importantly of all is the awareness and discipline it promotes which encourages our youngsters to set higher standards for themselves physically, spiritually, socially and academically. Imagine the difference a generation of young people like this can make in High Point and then consider making a donation to GO FAR and give a child the gift of running.