Donning bright yellow shirts and even brighter smiles, about 50 members of the World Mission Society Church of God in New Windsor volunteered at the second annual 2016 Walkway Marathon in Hudson Valley—which includes a full marathon, half marathon and 5K across the historic Walkway Over the Hudson pedestrian bridge. With a 5 a.m. start on June 12, 2016, the second day of the weekend-long event, volunteers began preparing to greet, encourage and serve all race participants to help them reach the finish line.
Volunteer Cory McClellan kicked off the marathon by singing the National Anthem at the 5K race starting point atop the Walkway Over the Hudson Bridge. “You know, it was so nice to start the morning off and to have our National Anthem sung by such a wonderful voice from someone from the World Mission Society Church of God,” said Mary Kay Vrba, president and CEO of Dutchess Tourism and a race participant.
The Church of God volunteers helped by manning water and Gatorade stations along the route, placing cones and guiding participant traffic, and encouraging runners throughout the race with loud cheers, signs and pom-poms. They then welcomed racers at the finish line with more cheers, serving food and water in the finish area—all until the final runner crossed the finish line.
Ms. Vrba was impressed with the volunteers, saying, “It’s so wonderful to have all you folks out there cheering us on. It was great both at the start and at the finish. So it was a great experience. It was just an enjoyable community day.”
Even New York Senator Sue Serino was there to support the runners. “It’s great seeing all the people that participate and from every age level.” And she thanked the volunteers for participating and cheering everyone on.
Running a marathon, half-marathon or even a 5K is a huge undertaking that requires a lot of endurance, sacrifice and perseverance. Regardless of speed or time, simply completing the race is a big success and lifetime achievement for most.
Each runner has a different story and reason for running; through the race, each suffers from different ailments or pains. But, while their reasons for starting all differ, their end goal is the same—to cross the finish line.
Being there to support and serve the more than 3,200 race participants on their way to the finish line was a great joy and pleasure for the Church of God volunteers. Following the example of Christ, we hope to encourage and support many more runners on their way to future finish lines with the love of God.
This was a great event and a great opportunity to practice the teachings of Christ. I believe that the runners received energy from the volunteers, but that we also came to realize many things by seeing their efforts and drive to accomplish their goals. I hope that our small efforts will remain with them and that we, having seen their drive, can all continue to strive to finish the race that we each have ahead of us.
Everyone is a winner when running a marathon. There is much unity among the runners even though their purpose and drive to run may differ. The cheers and the vibrant energy overflowed throughout the Hudson Valley Rail Trail so the runners could push their limits and cross the finish line. The smiles of the participants and the volunteers demonstrated the encouragement and genuine love for one another put into practice according to the teaching of Christ. I look forward to seeing more events like this where the palpable joy can be felt among all peoples and nations around the world.
The event was awesome. I was able to see that the Church of God really moved the runners to finish the race. I saw that it was getting hard for them toward the end. But every runner made it. The Church was awesome. The volunteers stayed until the very end, until the last runner, and cheered him on as if he was the first one to cross the finish line. I was very moved by the efforts made and hope to join more events with the Church of God.
Wherever the church of God members are, there are bright smiles and the voice of encouragement and hope in this world. The members continue to be the salt and the light in this world.