Celebrating the 4th with the Y

1 July 2014

Submitted by Ed Lee, Vice President of Social Responsibility and Chaplain, YMCA of South Hampton Roads

This Friday, July 4th we will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the first YMCA Independence Day 5K at the Mt. Trashmore Family YMCA. In 1984 the running boom was at its peak in our country and our local area. You could run a race almost every weekend, and as a runner myself, I usually did. As a young program director back then, my boss gave me the goal to put on a 5K race that year. Realizing there weren’t a whole lot of dates available, I contacted Charlie George of the Tidewater Striders, and he suggested we have a race on the 4th of July. And the rest, as they say, is history.

As is turned out, it was the perfect date for this event, because this day presented an opportunity for us to lift up three very important values—fitness, family, and freedom. One of our goals involved making this an event for the whole family, so in 1986 we added the .2 mile Tot Trot for 3-5 year olds and a mile race for 6-12 year olds. We have since dropped the mile race, but the Tot Trot continues to be a family favorite. (The pictures in this blog are from the 1989 Tot Trot with me and my then five year son, Ryan.) Most of all, the specialness of celebrating the Independence Day in a military area like ours, provided us an opportunity to thank all those who had served to defend and protect our freedom. 

So we invite you to come out to join us to celebrate our 30th anniversary. On this day in 1984, President Reagan delivered this address to the nation that’s still appropriate for us today—“We can feel as Teddy Roosevelt did when he surveyed the world at the turn of the century. He said, ‘We Americans see across the dangers the great future that lies beyond, and we rejoice as a giant refreshed, as a strong man ready for the race. The great victories are yet to be won; the greatest deeds yet to be done. There are yet in store for our people and for the causes we uphold, grander triumphs than have ever yet been scored.

“Well, so it is, and it will be. Despite our differences and disagreements, this is a happy, decent, united country. The bells still ring for America. A philosopher said recently, and for that, we must be truly grateful.”

“Happy Fourth of July! May God bless you, and may He continue to bless the Nation He showered with His love for more than two centuries.”