Sept. 23 LCH fundraiser will be a race of inclusiveness
The spiritual, emotional and physical journey of Kennett resident Janet Rodriguez began a few years ago, when she discovered that even a slow walk quickly exhausted her.
Eventually, those first steps became a jog, and the jog eventually turned into a run, and the run led to her participation in several road races, including an entry in the 10K race at this year's Kennett Run.
On average, she now runs ten miles a day, scissoring her way through the town's streets and outskirts, in preparation for what will become her largest, most quantifiable leap from those first steps taken years ago: Participation in a full 26.2-mile marathon this November in Philadelphia.
For Rodriguez, running has become not only a personal journey, but a shared one. From Aug. 2 to just a few days before the second annual La Communidad Hispana 5K, Family Walk and Kid's Dash event on Sept. 23 in Anson B. Nixon Park, Rodriguez will supervise a bilingual training session to prepare runners and walkers for the September event.
“I want to see more people exercising in my own community,” she said. “I want to see more participating in races like this one, for their own health and wellness. Running is not just good for your health. It will change your life, and I want to change somebody's life.”
“It's incredible knowing people like Janet, because that's what my whole mission has been,” said Progressive Fitness Coaching owner David Berger, who will serve as the event's race director. “To hear someone else own the same like-minded principles in an effort to get an entire community to take a healthier approach to life is nothing short of inspiring.”
In addition to the three races, the event will include family activities, food, live music by Angeles de Mexico, a pinata demonstration with Casa Guanajuato, goodie bags and event T-shirts. Awards will be given to the top three male and female runners in each event. Proceeds will support LCH's health center, social assistance services, and education and workforce development programs.
The theme, “All One Under the Sun,” was conceived by LCH to celebrate the entire Kennett Square-area population, said Laura Mackiewicz, LCH's community engagement manager.
“This event will not only serve as a fundraiser for LCH, but it is also an opportunity to bring out the entire community to enjoy a morning of health and wellness, one that is open to any and all. As a nonprofit community health center, we believe in high-quality, affordable, accessible care for everyone. We want our event to reflect the core of our mission."
The Sept. 23 race underscores the focus that LCH places on health and wellness in the local Latino community. In addition to the training sessions -- which may evolve into a running club -- LCH sponsors weekly community walks, and partners with the Chester County Food Bank to offer healthy cooking classes, all in English and Spanish.
“We create these environments as a means of getting as much information about health education out as possible, and follow it up with connections to local resources,” Mackiewicz said. “It's an easy transition from 'Here's the next step to live a healthier life' to 'Here's a way to do it.'”
At LCH's 2016 5K race, Rodriguez finished first in the women's division, but her focus throughout the course, she said, was not just maintaining her own pace, but helping those around her. She spotted a young boy running beside her, but rather than attempt to outrun him, she offered him encouragement. At the end of the race, he thanked her for supporting him to the finish line.
“I want to see more people run faster than I do,” she said. “I want to support people. When I am running, I am cheering. I tell those around me, 'Come on! You're strong! You can do it!'”
La Communidad Hispana's "All One Under the Sun" fundraiser 5K will take place on Sept. 23, beginning with registration at 8 a.m. in Anson B. Nixon Park in Kennett Square. For complete information about the event and to register, visit www.lacommunidadhispana.org/event/lch-5k-family-walk-childrens-dash.
Janet Rodriguez's training sessions will take place Aug. 2 to Sept. 20, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Monday practice will take place at at Anson B. Nixon Park, and Wednesday practices will take place at the Kennett High School track.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email email@example.com.