Saturday morning, up before daybreak, I was warming some food for Youth Run NOLA’s post-race celebration (see photo) at the Crescent City Classic when I thought: the kids are rolling out of bed right now. As I parked my car, filled with trays of buffalo wings and pasta salad, I thought: they’re stretching and warming up by now. As I broke ice for the bottled water, they were lining up to start; as I laid out the healthy snacks, they were just hitting their stride; as I wrapped up the preparations, the first finishers raised their arms to “break the tape,” figuratively at least.
This is my life with Youth Run NOLA, as blogger and friend. But even when I’m on the sidelines, the kids are on my mind. Saturday’s race was a 10k, a distance every student had already run, so the reason they were on my mind so consistently had little to do with the ground covered that morning.
Rather, it had to do with the ground covered in the long term, with their eight-month journey from a diverse group of students at eight school sites with little running experience to a team-oriented, supportive, and hard-working mass of bright yellow shirts and proud, smiling faces celebrating what they had achieved. Not merely a journey, then. A transformation.
At root, Youth Run NOLA is about transforming the lives of Greater New Orleans youth through the medium of running. As runners yourselves, you know how powerful and life-altering a commitment it can be, and so it is with much gratitude that I saw members of the Run Louisiana community cheering our students on, offering words of encouragement and congratulations, and generally welcoming them into the community of runners as members in their own right. In fact, you’ve been doing it all along. And we couldn’t have broken the tape without you.