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!
This blog shares the story of how Diakon Adoption & Foster Care staff members went the extra mile to help adoptees participate in Girls on the Run®, a non-profit program that inspires girls to recognize their inner strengths and celebrate what makes them unique.
As an affiliate council of Diakon Child, Family & Community Ministries, Girls on the Run – Lehigh Valley delivers sessions involving 10 weeks of dynamic discussions, activities and running games for girls in third through fifth grades, with each season concluding with a celebratory 5K event, completed by participants and “running buddies.”
JoAnn Carter, mother of two adoptive girls (Daysia 11, Jada 9)
My interest in Girls on the Run began when my girls brought home a flyer from Parkway Manor elementary school announcing the program. I thought it would get them off the couch and give them a well-rounded opportunity that teaches them confidence. I also thought it would be great to have the girls be part of a running team.
My running partner quickly surveyed me.
I knew she was probably wondering how she had ended up with this “old guy” as her Girls on the Run “running buddy.” Sensing her skepticism, I attempted to break the ice with a variety of questions about her interests. Eventually, we connected a bit on the topic of music as she shared the names of favorite musicians such as Selena Gomez.
I’m too out of shape to run. I’ll start after I lose some weight…
Mike Leavitt (bib #113 in photo) felt this way for quite some time. He was an athlete in his younger days but work, family and life in general had taken its toll.
At 38 years of age, he felt scared and disgusted at how out of shape he was. And when a friend suggested joining a running program, he thought it was out of the question.
“I’ve never been a runner per se. With flat feet, bad knees and a larger frame, I’m not really built for speed. In addition, my energy level was really low. I wasn’t motivated at all. Never thought I could do it!” he says.
Girls on the Run for third- through fifth-grade girls and Girls on Track for sixth- through eighth-grade girls are non-competitive, curriculum-based programs designed to build self-respect and educate participants about issues affecting girls every day.
The girls play fun games to encourage physical movement with each lesson centered on an age-relevant theme such as healthy nutrition, gossiping, bullying, and how to stand up for yourself. The girls complete a community-service project and participate in a non-competitive 5k race, the culminating event for each session of the program.
Here are comments from mentors and the council director about the current program….
It seems as if a lot of people are participating in various running events throughout the central Pennsylvania region, whether “standard” 5K runs, mud and obstacle runs, color runs, or half-marathons. Perhaps you have already participated in some of these runs—or are interested in trying one for the first time.
The Diakon Outdoor Adventure Challenge is personally my favorite 5K race in the area. The beautiful trails, the fun and challenge of the high-ropes course and the Alpine Tower, along with the opportunity to see firsthand how Diakon Youth Services positively affects our youths, combine to make this a fun and unique event.
Whether you are currently a non-runner, beginner, or experienced racer I challenge you to put this Sept. 20 race on your calendar and invest some time this summer to increase your fitness level while preparing for it.