“The rules are simple. Show up three afternoons a week. Bring a snack and something to drink: no sugar drinks, no sweet snacks. Invite the parents to come along and run with their children. Do warm-up stretches in a circle; there are no lines. Compete against yourself, not others. Complete the half-mile track as many times as you set for your goal, and cross the finish line.”
The most effective way to reach out and make a difference is to take on something you love and share it with others. Chad Weidert and his wife Susan are neither self-proclaimed, nor selfless, do-gooders. Chad supervises painting crews on offshore platforms for Shell Oil (each platform has twelve full-time painters; salt air devours paint), Susan is an administrator at the local Catholic school. They have three children, mostly grown, and are looking forward to a vacation at Disney World, just the two of them, to celebrate Chad’s 50th birthday.
A few years ago Susan and Chad decided to invite children to the track after school. Not the kids on the track team, or even athletes. Anyone, any age, any ability was welcome. Their message: come out and move and you’ll feel good. “You never have to do better. You may not be better on day two than on day one. But I guarantee you’ll do better on day ten.”
Over a hundred children, and many parents, have participated. They meet three times a week for an hour or so. “We have a second-grader who does the 5K in 21 minutes. Others walk one half-mile. Most of those who start by walking a half-mile end the season by running one to two miles.”
The kids don’t compete against each other; their only measure is with themselves. But there are rewards. Four different groups sponsor 5K races around Gramercy. The local community hospital provides medals to any youth who runs in three of the four local races. Last year, over fifty of Susan and Chad’s kids earned a medal. That’s a nice boost to childhood wellness from a program that costs nothing but a few hours a week and a caring attitude toward each child.
How will we live tomorrow?
“Dustin is our middle son. He’s at LSU and wants to be a doctor. Your question makes me think of Dustin when he was four. We were at the grocery store. We stood in line at Piggly Wiggly. He asked if he could have a candy. I said ‘yes.’ He asked if I would get one for Chase, his older brother, and Emily, his younger sister. I said ‘no,’ since they didn’t come with us. He put his candy back.
“Dustin had a scholarship opportunity at Spring Hill College. On our way to his interview I said, ‘They might ask you where you want to be in 10 years.’ ‘Oh that’s easy. I’ll be where He wants me to be.” Dustin is a young man of great faith. Tomorrow we’ll be alright.”