It’s been my experience that the finest moments in life happen when you take a chance, whether it be confronting a fear head-on or setting a goal that you believe is beyond your reach but deciding to tackle it anyway.
The first annual Diakon Outdoor Adventure Challenge 5K Trail Run/Walk in 2012 initiated a series of shining moments that resulted from taking a chance, both for me and others.
I first heard of the race when I received a poster in the mail at my business, Train Yard Gym & Fitness. The event set itself apart from other 5Ks we had been asked to advertise because it included use of a high-ropes course, zip-line and Alpine Tower at the Diakon Wilderness Center after the race.
I was quickly sold on the concept of a beautiful trail run, lots of adventure-focused activities afterwards and the fact that my entry fee would help the at-risk youths the Diakon Wilderness Center serves. I pulled together a group of 10 runners and hikers that year and we were off to see what this was all about.
That first race day unexpectedly turned into an opportunity for me to take a chance. I had been looking forward to the race for months, but a few days before the event I started having hip pain and honestly didn’t know if I could run. I decided to go for it anyway and ended up coming in first place among the females.
Was I ever happy that I didn’t let my fears hold me back!
My 14-year-old daughter randomly shared this thought with me while we were driving last night….
Mom, isn’t it amazing how one tiny snowflake that falls from the sky joins with all the others and creates these huge piles of snow? It’s just amazing.
I agreed with her and then jokingly said, “I’ll bet there’s a life lesson in there somewhere, but I’m too tired of all this snow to think what it might be.”
Later that evening, the lesson dawned on me. Throughout the last few days I’ve heard stories of people joining forces to help others during and after the massive snowstorm that hit our region. Many of those people are my coworkers. Alone they could do only so much, but like those snowflakes, they combined their efforts and the results multiplied into something amazing. Just a few examples:
I was recently at a dinner party and the topics of gardening and native plants came up.
I mentioned the Diakon Wilderness Greenhouse and how the greenhouse and native plant nursery there support a good cause—Diakon Youth Services. I know a lot about the program because, as a freelance designer for Diakon, I had recently created several promotional items for the wilderness greenhouse’s grand reopening native plant sale.
Can’t run 3.1 miles?
Cory Frederick couldn’t run that far either at this time last year, but thanks to what is called the “Couch-to-5K” program, he was able to go the distance at the Diakon Wilderness Center’s 2014 Outdoor Adventure Challenge.
As a member of the event’s planning committee and a huge fan of the Diakon Wilderness Center’s mission to help at-risk youths, I wanted to use my experience as a personal trainer/gym owner/runner to draw more people to the 5K, but also to help others simply gain the benefits of exercise. To that end, I offer some helpful tips below.
A few years ago, we went sailing with a friend and her husband on the Chesapeake Bay. It was a beautiful day—though no strains of Christopher Cross ran through my head—and an unbelievably calming experience.
Of course, when you do that, you tend to take for granted the quality of the water beneath you. But my friend indicated the Chesapeake was still on the mend … but had made progress thanks to people such as those responsible for the grant below, which will have a positive effect not only on the bay but also on the lives of at-risk youths …
Sail on to read some interesting information …
“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.”
~ John Whitehead, Rutherford Institute
That’s the one word that sticks in my mind when I think about Diakon Youth Services. The unlimited potential to shape the lives of youths in our community. The potential to do good. The potential to spread love and compassion. The potential to create bonds that last a lifetime.
Youth sports continue to be of interest to blogs and media, often with mentions of “helicopter” parents, disrespectful players and belligerent coaches.
So what, you may wonder, can parents do to make the experience a positive one for their children? Jeremias Garcia, who oversees the Center Point Day Program at the Diakon Wilderness Center near Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, not only has extensive experience working with young people of all backgrounds, but also has coached various ages and levels of boys and girls basketball and girls soccer.
We asked him to share his experiences and advice:
I grew up without a dad in a really tough neighborhood. My mom did a great job taking care of me, but there were too many negative influences in my neighborhood. I fell in with a bad crowd and got into some trouble. I ended up being put under house arrest, then in an after-school program, and finally the Weekend Alternative Program at the Diakon Wilderness Center.
Every few months we hold photo contests for our Diakon staff members. Originally, we launched a contest to obtain content for our 27 Diakon Facebook pages, but the process has evolved into a fun way of bringing staff together with one another and the people they serve.
Our last employee Facebook photo contest was themed as the “fall selfie” edition. We had so many terrific entries from a multitude of Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries programs and Diakon Senior Living campuses that we wanted to share some of them here.
Earlier this year, participants and staff of the Flight Program had the opportunity to participate in a Haiti mission trip. They took care of the needs of orphanage children and spent time playing, coloring, writing letters to sponsors, opening gifts, making bracelets and assisting the nursing staff with the kids’ annual physicals. They stayed very busy in the hot, muggy weather! Along with working with the children, Flight participants had the opportunity to work alongside other missions team members in a variety of ways. They assisted the nurses, worked with the builders and even went door-to-door in a tent city to hand out supplies and pray with families. The Flight participants were moved outside of their comfort zones and, through that process, learned a lot about themselves. They learned how strong, resilient and capable they are. They left a lasting effect on Haiti and with the kids of the orphanages, and Haiti left a lasting impact on all of them. One of the participants shared about his experience: