Archive for April, 2011

“…this aint nothing, we are runners!”

We are 3 weeks into our 8 weeks of training, and both on and off the track the kids are off to a great start…

We started with our first run as group on Friday April 8th and of course in true Chicago fashion it was a beautiful 38 degree “Spring” day with windy and rainy conditions.  As the day progressed toward our 6pm start time, I could not help but become a little nervous.  So much effort and anticipation had been put into the start of this program and I wanted to it to start off with a “bang”.  I began thinking about how not ideal it would be to have our first day canceled because of weather.  Talk about a momentum buster!

But sure enough, as soon as I started to become a bum and consume myself with worry and doubt God slapped me across the face…this time he happened to use one the participants, Nick Jordan, to do so!  Nick fell in love with running this past fall during his first year in the running club. In fact, him and a couple other students trained for and ran the Turkey Trot 8k on their own last year, even after our season had finished.  As rain began to soak me and Nick that Friday while he was helping me unload supplies from a van, I made a negative comment about the weather and how it will probably be raining that night.

Nick said, “Rusty, you are not going to cancel running club are ya?”

“Not sure yet, man.” I replied.

Nick stopped what he was doing and looked me dead int he eye and said, “Man… this aint nothing, we are runners!  We have run through a lot worse weather than this! We got…what you call it….endurance!”

I smiled.

Nick was right.  Over the past 2 years of running club, the Breakthrough youth have consistently shown up to as early as 6am on Saturday mornings despite the weather.  During the first year (09) our girls ran through hail and freezing rain on more than one occasion.  Last year our boys ran on the lakefront during a day in which the winds blew with gusts up to 60 mph and the sand from the beach mixed with rain was literally cutting them till their legs bled as the ran.  Anybody remember these days?!?!

How quickly I had forgotten the spirit and determination of our students.  For years I had preached that running teaches discipline and running through bad situations develops endurance, and now I needed Nick to remind me of that!

Needless to say we ran that day.  All 6 of our kids cruised through their 1.5 mile run despite rain not letting their eyes look any further than their feet!

I got a feeling that this is not the first time these kids are going to blow me away!

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Side note; we as a group our running the Ravenswood 5k, courtesy of our friends at Fleet Feet Sports, this Sunday May 1st!  Anybody out there going to be there too??

Also, I don’t have a lot of pictures of our crappy weather runs for obvious reasons, but I was able to snap the above one with my phone during the sandstorm run of 2010…I am not exaggerating when I say that their legs were bleeding!

The Story Begins

This is the story of 6 kids from Chicago’s East Garfield Park neighborhood.  This is the story of 6 sets of fears and hesitations.  This is the story of 6 lives forever changed!

While East Garfield Park is one of Chicago’s most under-served and disadvantaged neighborhoods,  ranked at the top of the city for crime and drug use every year,  it is absolutely packed with brilliant and talented young students.  Our youth, however, are often limited by both seen and unseen barriers in their lives that are purely a product of the neighborhood we live in. 

For the past 10 years Breakthrough Urban Ministries has come alongside parents and educators in the community simply saying, “How can we help our kids overcome these obstacles?”  What we have found is that we can help the children in EGP best by providing; bible studies that can nurture their faith, an after school program that can improve their academic skills, and sports leagues that can expand their network and provide safe places in the community. 

These programs are continually helping students overcome some of the barriers before them, and now the Advanced Running Club is tackling the barrier of the “world-view”.  Whether you live in EGP or Barrington, we are all trapped by the walls of our own environment.   We don’t naturally see past our immediate surroundings and put our situation in the context of others…especially others that we are not familiar with. 

This is the story of 6 kids from EGP who are ready to have their world views rocked, and their opportunities in their own community highlighted! This is the story of 6 talented students from an under-served Chicago neighborhood working for their peers across the world who live in an even harder situation.  This is the story of Nick, She-she, Alesha, Tony, Cheyenne, and Ashley!  

We hope you follow their story…