I thought I knew a lot about running: running errands, running out of time, running away.
But lately, I've been hearing from folks about running with a purpose: how the simple act of running can improve lives and help other people.
At Bethel Elementary School in Midland, students have joined the new running club in droves. The club is the brainchild of principal Kristi Williford and PTSO co-president Mary Anne Capel, who were looking for ways to improve health and nutrition for Bethel students.
They got in touch with parent Shannon Coley, who works as a trainer at a health club, to ask for her help.
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The running club, which is open to third- through fifth-graders, had their first practice in February. Coley said she was expecting about 25 students to register for the club, which met after school, but was pleasantly surprised when 40 students came out to run.
Those kids must have had a great time and told their friends about it, because the next week, 70 students came. She began looking for parent volunteers to come and help, and scrambling to find ways to keep all those students busy and moving for the hour and a half of practice time.
Right now, 97 students are registered for running club. Each week, Coley said, she divides the students into two groups: boys and girls. One group goes to the baseball field, where the students go through a series of running games; the other group runs laps on the soccer field. The next week they switch.
The goal for running club is to complete 12 laps of the field, which totals 3 miles, or the approximate distance of a 5K run.
Garrett Hien, a fourth-grader at Bethel, said most of the kids prefer playing games, but he likes running laps the best. He was so excited to hear about the formation of a running club at his school that he ran off the bus, yelling to his mom, "Sign this paper," which would give him permission to join.
Garrett, who recently completed his fourth 5K, said everyone should give running a try, since it's good exercise and helps your body a lot.
Coley is proud of her running club kids, who have learned about the importance of exercise and good nutrition. For them, running provides a path to good health.
Meanwhile, running is helping the Mount Pleasant community. Melissa Shandor told me how successful the Mount Pleasant Food Ministry's 5K run was this spring: 176 runners and 78 walkers came out to the high school for the event, which raised more than $9,000 to help people in need.
Shandor said all the proceeds will be used to buy food or for the Good Samaritan Fund, which helps people pay their bills.
From now on, I'm going to pay more attention to this kind of running; it's making a big difference in our community.