"Walking today for a hopeful tomorrow, because it's worth fighting for." -Party in the Park www.pitpcommunity.org
Two years ago, took his life. He was a Marmion Military Academy Student. Two friends of his, Ben Minnis and Emily Roberts, put together Party in the Park for Suicide Awareness. In their grief, they pulled together to create and plan an event that was wonderful. My son and I and a friend went to the event last year. It was wonderful. Music and games, face painting and great energy. My son entered the Big Wheel race and won. We had a great time. All proceeds went to of Batavia. www.spsamerica.org They raised more than $5,000.
On July 21, I attended the second annual Party in the Park with my two dear friends, Kelly and Katie. The evening was hot and muggy but the energy was fantastic. The location was the Riverwalk in downtown Batavia. We registered for the 5k Run/Walk and planned on staying for the band that was scheduled to play afterwards.
Tables under tents were active with face painting, ice cream eating contests and various chiropractor vendors. Race attendees wore matching Party in the Park t-shirts that were given as part of their registration fee. The shirts were cool, a black base and then colorful text. The text read: "Walking today for a hopeful tomorrow, because it's worth fighting for." I will definitely wear mine again.
Katie, Kelly and I decided we were going to walk the 5k. We slipped into the back of the group that was forming to begin the race. Katie had asked how long the race was. I casually suggested "it's like 2 miles." I knew it was 3.1, but that sounds so much longer than "like 2" and I didn't want to discourage her. The race began and we were on our way.
We kept pace with the fast walking group. The trail was along the river and beautiful. It led to Fabyan Parkway. Soon, we saw the Japanese Gardens. We decided to take a detour. The garden was beautiful. We visited the bear cages and looked at the house on the hill. We took pictures under the garden trellis. I was lost in the moment. It was just breathtaking.
We found our way back to the path and continued the 5k. All along the path, there were words of encouragement, written in sidewalk chalk, on the ground. "You Matter." "Keep Going." "Don't Give Up." It was a brilliant touch to an already thoughtful event. It soon dawned on me that we were probably in last place in the race. I laughed at the thought. It was not necessarily intentional, but just an "it is what it is" moment. We found the end of the race. In sidewalk chalk on the ground was written: "3 Miles. Congratulations!" I pointed to the writing and nudged Katie. Katie, Kelly and I high-fived.
We made it back and peeked at the crowd ahead. Yes, we were the last ones. We discreetly unpinned our numbers from our shirts and slipped them into the trash bin. We met up with friends and continued the evening's festivities.
Ending last evoked several emotions. I think for a second it was embarrassment. That feeling was quickly replaced by the giddy excitement of carrying a secret. Ultimately that evolved to feeling that we had an adventure in time that can never be replaced or forgotten. I think that captured the essence of the Party in the Park. Creating a moment in time and being alive. Enjoying life. Taking an adventure. Being alive. Staying hopeful. We were indeed: "Walking today for a hopeful tomorrow, because it's worth fighting for."- Party in the Park.