Last month, my wife, Cathy, my niece, Melissa, and her husband, David, all participated in the 44th Peachtree Road Race. In the midst of questionable weather conditions, we were able to conquer the 6.2 miles without getting rained upon. It was my first time participating in the July 4th Atlanta tradition, and to be honest, I was not excited about the prospect of joining the throng of 60,000 runners/walkers. Secretly, I was hoping the event would get rained out, that I could sleep in and enjoy the rest and relaxation. Ultimately, out of a devotion to my wife, our niece and her husband, I reluctantly decided to endure it.
Boy, was I wrong about the experience; it was exhilarating. Peachtree Street was teeming with young people, seniors, couples, families, groups from work, and cheering fans on the sidewalks and in nearby buildings. Their presence created a celebratory atmosphere that lasted long after the race concluded. As we moved up “Cardiac Hill,” near Piedmont Hospital, I found myself thinking about doing this next year, and the year after; I even felt some remorse for not having participated in any of the previous Peachtree Road races! And as we turned off Peachtree Street down the final leg of the race, I realized that I had not once thought about stopping or how much longer we had to go; the thrill of participating carried me through the entire event.
Our niece’s husband, David, also inspired me to persevere. Carrying a fifty-six pound Army backpack and wearing his Army boots, David conquered the 6.2 miles without stopping, even running all the way through the finish line. He carried the backpack as a means of honoring our nation’s armed forces, of which he is one of many. Having served two tours in Iraq, David truly understands what it means to serve one’s country, and he wanted to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom. It was an unforgettable experience taking part in the race with him.
The entire experience reinforced the notions of participation, perseverance and patriotism. This year, as a new school year begins, I encourage each of us to try something new, to take a chance, to get involved. The Walker School has so many ways for students, teachers, and parents to participate. Push through the temptation to stand on the sidelines or be a couch potato; raise your hand, volunteer, make a difference. Our entire community will be enhanced as each of us gets more involved!