Saturday, March 15, marked one year since FitWit Club members participated in their first 5k, the Tour deCatur. (For a summary of last year’s race, click here).
After the bonding amongst students that took place at last year’s race, The FitWit Foundation decided to incorporate a 5k every semester into every FitWit Club program. This year’s Tour DeCatur was the fifth 5k FitWit Club has participated in. This race in particular brought about reflection not only how
The FitWit Foundation has grown in the last year, but also reflection on how much our students have grown and matured, along with the many new students that have joined over the last year. Six students, representing 3 different schools, participated in the Tour DeCatur on Saturday. Unlike last year’s epic Tour deCatur race run in the pouring rain, this year was delightfully sunny, both literally and emotionally.
As participants met early Saturday morning, wring their red FitWit t-shirts and race numbers, the students introduced themselves to one another and to the adult FW’ers they were paired to run with. They all enjoyed asking questions and getting to know one another as they headed to the starting line. Of the six, we had:
Home for her college spring break, Ayanna brought enthusiasm and some good dance moves to the race. Ayanna was a Decatur High School participant last spring who last minute heard about the race while riding the bus home the night before and enthusiastically wanted to join us. It was inspiring to hear about her motivation to get back in shape after her first semester of college and the role FitWit Club played in that motivation. It also was fun to hear that she has been making green smoothies since last spring and even makes them in her dorm room!
Julia, a junior at Decatur High School, who has matured beyond measures in the last year, was participating in her fourth FitWit Club 5k. She attributes much of her developed focus in life to her love of running found during FitWit Club. She frequently sends updates on races she would like to run, and is always eager for more. Her zeal for running and life is contagious to so many around her.
The one student we had representing FitWit Club at Atlanta Neighborhood Charter was seventh grader, Anthony. This was Anthony’s first race and I am not sure he knew what he was getting himself into. He pushed through the race running in spurts – with the incentive his mom gave him of a popsicle at the end, which he enjoyed thoroughly along with the finisher medal he proudly wore around his neck.
“I’m not going to stop, I’m not going to stop,” was the chant Mariela took on from the start. Mariela is a FitWit Club member and sophomore at Maynard H. Jackson High School this semester. As she did on Saturday, she brings sass and willpower each day, not allowing herself to be influenced negatively by others. This semester, we have seen Mariela step up and try so many new things that she would have never thought she was capable of, creating a beautiful inner confidence that she is starting to carry.
On the first day of FitWit Club, Jasmine and her friend attended; we have not seen the friend since, but Jasmine has continued to come each week to FitWit club. The Friday before, Jasmine very quietly said she wanted to run the 5k. Although fairly quiet throughout the race, completing the race was a huge feat for Jasmine. She struggled with the workouts in the beginning, but after four weeks she has seen and felt huge improvements in her strength, ability, and enjoyment of working out. This is huge, especially as we see this translate in comfort level of being with all the other students in the club.
- Emily, a senior at Decatur High School, was one of the original six from last year. If you remember last year’s write up, Emily was the one who said, “I think I can go faster,” and kept repeating, “I’m going to finish. I can’t believe I’m actually doing it,” throughout the race. Emily has participated in every single 5k we’ve had and continues to show enthusiasm and determination every time. She is a quiet leader amongst her peers – being interested in truly getting to know people and building relationships, which is not that common for a high school student. She took on that leadership by encouraging and preparing Jasmine for the race while the two also shared their plans for after high school.
The camaraderie at the end of a race is always the best part. It doesn’t matter who the person next to you is, you still want to give them a sweaty hug at the finish line. Those sweaty hugs and high fives are the unspoken equivalent of, “We did it.” This unspoken message and shared experience amongst the student participants is always the coolest part of these events. It’s the unspoken that is hard to describe, but most impactful for them. Completing a 5k or race of any kind can be a monumental life event, but even more monumental is when the students become transformed inwardly and they recognize the power of community behind such an event. That inward transformation and recognition is what we saw in these six students on Saturday.
Thank you for making such an event possible for them.