My husband Bruce and I have volunteered with the No Surrender Running Club since 2010.
What if you don’t run?  Bruce and I are not runners so what did we do as volunteers with the No Surrender Running Club?  We stood by a card table, filled paper cups with water from a water jug and handed them to the runners every time they came around the loop at Garfield Park.  We encouraged the kids when they came around and told them how many loops they had to go yet.  When race day came, we made poster boards and yelled encouragement as they ran past us.  When they finished the race and got their medals we congratulated them.  
The water jug comes filled with water, the fruit and granola bars available to the kids after they run are provided and someone else brings the card table.  

No education was needed.  No financial obligation had to be met.  So what did this involve on our part?  It took a couple hours of our time – that’s it!  Was the investment of our time worth it?  Kelly Ellis, Director of Base Camp (an organization where many NSRC kids come from) has said that in her 18 years of inner city work, she has never witnessed a transformation in any of her kids like she did thru the No Surrender program.  Was that because the kids got preached at the entire time someone was running with them or with every cup of water we handed out?  No, I don’t think that happened even once.  Was it the reward system that was set up for their involvement or the social gatherings that were planned for them?  Those things were appreciated, enjoyed and looked forward to but the big thing that made the difference was this:  SOMEONE CARED ABOUT EACH ONE OF THOSE KIDS and it mattered.

Not one of the  kids who finished running the Grand Rapids ½ marathon had ever run a mile before.   When the training began in the heat of the summer, running 1 mile was a challenge and the thought of running 13 miles was an impossibility.  But these kids stuck with the program and ran a half marathon in under 3 hours.  They each received a medal, were more physically fit, had lost weight and walked away with a level of confidence they never had before.  They have set an example at Base Camp that the younger kids are looking up to and want to be a part of.   Base Camp also has a Slushy Machine as one of the earned rewards once the runners had a total of 1000 miles and that has been a big hit at the snack bar.

Remember that these kids are not part of a family unit as you and I know it.  They do not have 2 parents that are standing behind them, encouraging them to get out there, cheering them on and supporting them.  There were times that some of the kids who ran had not had anything to eat yet that day.  

We live a short 20 minutes away from the neighborhoods the No Surrender kids live in but there is a world of difference between their life experiences and ours.  I strongly encourage each of you to be part of this ministry.  You do not have to show up on a weekly basis.  Karen and Pam are asking for you to volunteer once a month.  Of course you are welcome to come more than that and I think the more time you give, the more you receive in return.  Please consider this simple opportunity to expand your horizons and make a difference in a life.

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Bridge Run 10 Mile:  Sept. 15, 2013

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