“Our kids didn’t know much about running until the Parkway Classic 5K, and I guess I didn’t either. As a beneficiary of the race, our Boys and Girls Club chapter started training with our board president, Mr. Matt, about seven years ago. We started with a few kids running the race. Now we have 50 kids running every year. Not every kid is good at ball sports like basketball and football and running gives kids confidence that they are athletes.
We host a sleepover in the Club gym the night before the Parkway Classic so kids don’t miss the race. They come and spend the night and then the City DASH bus picks us up and takes us to the start line at Belle Haven. Forty to fifty kids, a handful of chaperones, not a lot of sleep, but a lot of fun. We’ve been doing that for4 or 5 years now.
I was five when I joined the Boys and Girls Club, just down the street from where I grew up in Alexandria. 20 years later, I’m the branch director and believe it is my duty to expose our kids to new ideas and experiences and keep them safe. Their teachers let me know if they act up in class and if they do, there are consequences at the Club. I stop by to see them at school to let them know I genuinely care about their lives. Three of my Club members are about to graduate from my alma mater, Virginia State University, this spring.
The kids get excited by running and 8 to 10 of them are running track for their schools. Now we have Club members as young as 5 and as old as 18 train for the Parkway Classic. I hype them up so much they don’t even know they are getting in shape. They try to beat me at practice.
I am the Dick Vitale of track.”