So before Nolin entered our lives, Jenn & I started unconsciously planning for our family. It started off with a neighborhood stray cat that we began taking care of, moved on to a stranded dog that we took in, then opening our home to an amazing foreign exchange student for a year, and also working with foster children through Stepping Onward an organization that we were part of.
On the weekends, we would meet with several foster children in the Boys Town program and run with them. While probably only a few of the children enjoyed the actual running part, I think all of them enjoyed the attention and the opportunity to have someone take interest in them. It was a fun time in our lives and a great learning experience for our future. As our lives changed and the children and foster parents moved in & out of the program it became a little more difficult to keep the program up.
Stepping Onward’s motto is Every Journey Begins With The First Step…so it was only fitting that Nolin’s first road race was the fun run at the Candy Cane 5K benefiting our friends at Boys Town.
Kicking and screaming (well not really kicking or screaming actually more like willingly) I sat out of this race because someone had to watch Nolin during the event and Jenn would do much better running than me. After she finished in second for her age group (I jokingly let her know she had really slipped since her 1st place overall women’s finish a few weeks earlier), we signed Nolin up for the kids fun run.
Jenn and Nolin headed over to the finish line (she used the excuse that she doesn’t know how to work the camera as to why she should run with him) and I perched out along with our friends on the side. The 8-10 year olds took off first. I think they may have run an actual mile and it was uber competitive, with parents telling their kids to run faster and hurry up. Then you had the 5-7 year olds and finally we got to the 3 and under.
There were a few kids who were younger than Nolin but their parents pretty much carried them the 500 or so feet. Nolin and Jenn got up to the start and he looked around with a huge smile on his face. He sized up the competition and then the race began. Nolin started off doing what he does best…running. He was laughing, running and simply having a good time.
And then something happened. He heard everyone cheering for the kids and he decided to eat it up. For Nolin’s first race he didn’t come in first, he didn’t even come in second or third. In fact he came in dead last…by a long shot. Nolin took about 3 times longer than everyone else only finishing with a little help from mom. He would stop to pick up a rock, sit down, laugh & clap for himself and sometimes just stop and smile at everyone as they cheered him on.
It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Even better was when I over heard a random parent say to a friend have you ever seen a better smile on a child? I have to admit that I secretly gave myself a high five…which if I had really done would have been a little awkward because people look a little crazy when they start swatting at the air.
He may not have come in first, but he definitely stole the show. I guess it’s true that every journey begins with the first step.