The Sixth Annual “Race to the Rocker” will be held on March 22 in Cuba. The four-mile race from historic uptown Cuba to the site of the World’s Largest Rocking Chair in Fanning is sponsored by JOG, Inc. (Joggers of God, In Cuba). Proceeds from the event go to support local charities.
But it’s not only the running and the gifts to charities that make this a special event in Crawford County. As the race has continued to grow, organizers have heard stories about how deeply it has affected some of the individual participants.
So, this year, they sent out a call for personal accounts of what the “Race to the Rocker” has meant to them. These inspirational stories of personal triumph, dogged determination, and life-changing decisions will be shared in the next several weeks as the race approaches. These stories are written by the participants, so readers can hear, in their own words, the impact of this event on their lives.
Jane Parres: “Never, never, never give up!”
In 1991, I fell and broke my left leg in 46 places below the knee, and in 1995, I fell again and broke my femur in three places. Both times, I was told by doctors I would never walk again. Living by Churchill's quote “Never, never, never give up,” I was determined to prove them wrong, and for ten years looked for a doctor who could help me. That decade of my life brought many changes and challenges, but eventually the right doctor came into my life.
During the course of the next two years I underwent five surgeries, recovering from one and moving right into the next, determined that nothing the doctors, physical therapists or insurance issues required of me for my recovery would be too hard...although there WERE moments!
Both rheumatoid and osteoid arthritis became challenges as time progressed, complicating many recovery issues, but we constantly pressed onward with VICTORY. Many dreams were imagined while in the wheelchair for 15 years, and the “When I Can Dance Again Bucket List” was written.
Last year I heard two friends, Lisa Hoover and Jane Reed, talking about the Race to the Rocker and mentioned “Finishing a Race” was on my bucket list. They encouraged me to sign up. I thought it would be an excellent idea to form a team to run with me so I would keep my courage up during the race, but one by one, the enthusiasm waned or circumstances changed and everyone dropped out except my friend Annette Brooks-Gottschall who walked with me every step of the way, never letting me become discouraged, and always letting me set the pace.
We crossed the finish line side by side with (we were told) the LONGEST time on record, 1:45:03. Greeted by the cheers and applause of many runners who had finished more than an hour earlier, I felt like an athlete, a champion, and a winner!
I have been asked if I will race to the rocker again and my answer is “absolutely......NOT.” It's a ‘bucket list,’ and it's time to move on to cross off another goal. But finishing the race will forever remain one of those life-changing moments of gratitude, greatness, the generosity of a good friend, and the memory makes me powerfully happy.
Winston was right.
As are the Beatles, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Sheila Thomas: Running in Her Seventh Decade
Back in the fall of 2011, our church put on a “Couch to 5K” program. Having arthritis, and knowing that exercise is sometimes the only thing that keeps me going, I signed on. Our goal was to run in Rolla's New Years’ Day 2012 race. I surprised myself by finishing the race and really enjoying it. But, what to do now? The cold winter was on and I needed to keep moving. I overheard someone talking about the “Race to the Rocker,” so I decided to keep running through the cold and shoot for the four-mile race.
My husband and I went to the Cuba High School on Friday evening (before the race) to have dinner served by the Cuba 4H, stroll through the Expo in the gym, and pick up my race packet. It's great fun as we ask the kids about their 4H projects, and visit with people we haven't seen since the last year.
Now to the Race. While waiting for the race to start, it's great fun to talk with the runners around you. Runners come from all over. My first year (this year will be my third), I met a girl from St. Louis who was expecting her first child. She did great. I did okay that year but was really excited when, in 2013, I bettered my time. That's what I'm shooting for this year, just to beat myself.
This race is so well organized and such fun—everyone should try it. Even if you'd walk this year, set yourself the goal of running in 2015. My goal has been to run through my 70th year, which is this year! But, don't be surprised if I'm at “Race to the Rocker” next year and beyond. What does Buzz Lightyear say? “To infinity and beyond!” It's great fun and you'll feel so healthy. This is a race you don't want to miss.