In a parking lot north of downtown we stopped to discuss the day's run before heading back to campus.Some of the responses: I am surprised that in our own city that this happens; It is amazing that just a few blocks away, life goes on - on the river walk - and people have no clue...; The smell of urine is what sticks in my mind; I felt like an outsider - like who was I to RUN where they were; It was depressing; I said hi to people and tried to look them in the eye; Gratitude. I felt grateful for what I have; I want to get involved - I want to volunteer and help; I can't believe this is so close to where we live...
Training for the Dean of Students Half Marathon Challenge offers an opportunity to teach participants a number of things. The goals of the program, now in its sixth year, are to teach students their mental and physical capacities of resilience. Indeed many feel they would never have imagined running 13.1 miles. For others, the goal is to achieve a milestone and check something off of their bucket lists.
Because training groups usually run for a charity, we do a food drive. The Kayla Mire Food Drive is named for 2010 graduate Kayla Mire who died in a one car accident shortly after graduation. She was an advocate for the needy. A food drive requires a light commitment of time and money for our students and supporters, so is perfect for those in college.
San Antonio provides an outstanding classroom for issues related to socioeconomic disparity, especially when it is in evidence all within walking - or running - distance. Our training starts in August with runs through the wealthier neighborhoods of Olmos Park and Alamo Heights. In late October the group does the annual homeless run. The participants this year are pictured above. We run downtown on Main Street and then turn toward the area of town where Haven for Hope and other services are based. And we run through streets where the poor and homeless are just hanging out.
What impressed me most about our young scholars was their empathy, the depth of their reflections, and how easily they went from person to person to discuss what they noticed and what they felt. Their professors and families have taught them well. The run isn't made to put the homeless on display. We are just running where we live. I look forward to it and dread it every year. But the jolt helps us break out of our bubble and see that right here, where we live, people need us. We get to go home, and eat, and rest comfortably. They don't.
Please consider contributing to this year's food drive by contributing online at this virtual food drive link from the San Antonio Food Bank. (After you click on Start you can click Skip if you want to pass the shopping spree.)