First Friday Message

The Power of the Many

Four months into our time here in Florida, my family continues to love the weather more each day, and we are enjoying the number of outdoor events and festivals throughout the region. In our neighborhood, we have begun to meet more of our neighbors as people are out and about more on walks and runs... and working hard to outdo each other with holiday lighting displays.

As an aspiring albeit reluctant runner, I always take note of the graceful runners in the neighborhood. Their gait is perfect, they appear to “float” between strides barely making a sound, and they never look tired. I’m not that runner.

Running is not my thing, but it provides the cardiovascular benefits I need. Invariably, at the 2-mile point of any run, my body begins to crave Chips Ahoy cookies and wonders why I did not choose Uber to deliver us to whatever destination that I had charted in my mind. Whenever I do run, I often run at night or on a treadmill at the Y away from the main action so no one has to see my anti-runner gait—it’s clunky and definitely not the elegant gait of the great runners I see racing through our neighborhood.

Years ago, in Pittsburgh, I ran in our Y’s 5K Turkey Trot along with 6,500 fellow runners braving near-freezing temperatures. Running in public was a BIG thing for me. I trained for weeks, purchased cool running gear so I could at least look the part, and when race day rolled around I was a little intimidated, but I was inspired.

There’s something about the power of a group of people when they come together. Standing at the starting line shoulder to shoulder with runners as far as I could see in every direction, I knew I couldn’t fail. And as the race began and the group moved forward, it was so breathtaking to see all the bodies moving almost in unison along the route. You could feel the ground shake just the smallest amount and hearing everyone cheering and coaching the group forward kept my legs moving and my mind focused.

SPOILER ALERT: This story doesn’t end with me winning the race or even winning my age group—far from it actually—but it is a story about the power of teamwork. I couldn’t fail on that day. There was nothing that could keep me from finishing that race and enjoying the sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing the finish line. I would not and could not fail my fellow runners.

Nearly 20,000 families are enrolled as members of the YMCA of Central Florida. That’s an extremely impressive “team” in my book, and what inspires me in this new role in Central Florida is what we can do together when we organize behind a common objective. In 2022, our Y will be looking to unite our team of parents, friends, and members as we take on a few community improvement projects and show the power of the Y. I hope you’ll join us when the time comes and, until then, when you see any of my fellow weekend warriors out for a run, feel free to scream out a “Woo-Hoo!!” to help us get through the run.

Kevin Bolding, President & CEO
YMCA of Central Florida

The Y. For a better us.®