Where do I even begin?
The 2022 GiGiFIT Acceptance Challenge Superhero Run/Walk was such an emotional roller coaster! This was my 7th year for the run/walk. Many of you have been around much longer than that but every year I just can’t imagine how the event can get any better. This year was the #bestofall as far as I am concerned.
We know the change from October to June has been challenging and frustrating for some including us but now that we’ve done two in June we’re pretty much convinced this is the best time of year to do it. For one, the weather is soo much nicer, and second of all, it’s daylight when our team shows up to set up for the morning!
The weather forecast leading up to the event was amazing, they kept saying sunny and 80 degrees. You can’t ask for better weather. THEN when we woke up Saturday morning they were saying a chance of rain. We did have a few sprinkles but we can certainly survive some sprinkles after all we’ve survived downpours and snow before!
Set up for the event went smoothly thanks to the many volunteers on hand. This event was made possible by more than 50 volunteers!!
The 5K was off and running right at 8 am with just over 200 5K participants registered. There were over 740 overall event registrations.
While many of the 5K participants are running competitively, they watch their time and hope to receive one of the superhero trophies or medals, there are a few families that walk the route and/or run it with their loved ones for fun. The finish line was buzzing with some of our GiGiFIT participants cheering runners on as they crossed the finish line and a young girls’ softball team handing out water. My favorite 5K moment was seeing our friend Pax cross the finish line with a smile on his face. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the 5K enthusiasts finishing strong but as Pax crossed that line it was as if he was saying “See what I did?” He was so proud of himself and the crowd was proud of him too! We had other GiGi’s participants running the 5K as well but I didn’t see them cross the finish line because I was pulled to another part of the park. Please know I am proud of ALL of you!
The results from the 5K can be seen here. We presented trophies to the top male and top female and there were medals for the top 3 in each gender/age group as well.
At 9:30, the kids were off and dashing across the field with smiles, giggles, and chaos! I love looking back on the pictures from the day just so I can see all the kids’ expressions as they run and get their medals. (More pictures will be added to this link as we get them.)
After the kids’ dash, the top teams were announced from the stage. We also had a special visitor!
Out of 44 Fundraising Teams, the top 5 fundraising teams are as follows:
- Lightning Lincoln
- Gavins Gators
- Zooming Zoey Grace
- Levi & Michael Friends Forever
- G.I. George
His energy matched the energy coming from the crowd!
After announcing the top 5 fundraising teams, we brought a special visitor to the stage.
Dan Arnold an NFL Player with the Jacksonville Jaguars was in attendance and graciously said he was willing to be in the spotlight for a minute. He brought along with him the My Cause, My Cleats cleats that our friend Zoey helped create. Those amazing cleats will be available on the online auction for our fall gala. You can see what Dan had to say in the video linked here. At the end of the video, you will hear the wise advice from Zoey’s little brother Maddox to go “Kiss Your Momma”! Which the crowd loved!
Following that shout-out of love for everyone’s momma, Kate was introduced to perform the national anthem to kick off the family walk. As always, she hit every note flawlessly and proceeded to share what GiGi’s means to her and how she is proud to be a self-advocate on our board of managers. I was standing off to the side when Kate started to sing and Auden was with me. As soon as Kate started singing, Auden looked at me and said “SHE’s a GOOD Singer” with a shocked look on her face and such emphasis on how she said it. It truly warmed my heart!
As many of the families embarked on the 1-mile inspirational walk the park was a buzz with laughter, joy, and friendship. We could hear those sounds as they walked farther and farther away until the park was mostly quiet. The busy bees then began the work of preparing for the raffle drawing. We were trying to hurry things along due to the radar showing a rain storm moving in.
As soon as families began returning to the park, the raffle drawing started. We knew with 50+ it would take a little time. The raffle is always so much fun and thanks to the many people and businesses that donate amazing items it truly helps our fundraising totals reach higher levels. Some of the winners are a little more exuberant than others (my husband) because they’ve put all their eggs/tickets in that one special basket/bucket.
At the end of the drawing, as I said one final thank you to the crowd Gavin happened to be on the stage too. He asked to say something and I thought nothing of letting him have the microphone. After all, this day is for him and all the other GiGi’s participants. I learned later that his parents were a little terrified by what he might say. However, what he actually did say, left ME in tears.
Gavin’s impromptu speech may not have been heard by many since most people were heading out to miss the rain (that we never did get). Gavin looked at me and said, “We need to thank Pam. She is my heart, our heart, of GiGi’s. She has changed my life and I love her.” There was a little more to it but I think my brain couldn’t handle anymore since I was physically trying to hold the tears in as to not become a puddle on the stage. 😭 Those words meant and will continue to mean the world to me. As with any job, there are good days, bad days, challenges, and successes, and his words will continue to stick with me on those bad days and during those challenges. Gavin and all of our friends at GiGi’s have changed my life! The hours, effort, and passion that I have dedicated to the Playhouse over the past 6 years and for the foreseeable future are all for them. THEY are the heart of the Playhouse and a little like the Grinch my heart has grown three times over since I started here back in 2016. Thank you, Gavin, for the kind words that will push me to get through the rough days! (If anyone got Gavin’s speech on video, please let me know!)
Last but not least, this event helped raised over $92,000 for our Playhouse and as many of you know, these funds are what makes the Playhouse thrive! These funds cover the cost associated with providing free one-on-one tutoring and speech, fitness, and music programs for all ages, and so much more! Visit the calendar to see the programs happening! Thank you all for helping to exceed our fundraising goal and for coming together to show the importance of acceptance for all here in the Quad Cities!
So as we close the book on the 2022 run/walk, I will reflect fondly and I hope all of you will too!
Much love to all, Pam
What was your favorite moment of the day?
Leave a comment to let us know.
SAVE THE DATE for next year! Saturday, June 3, 2023
Photos from the 2022 event can be seen here. More will be added as they become available.