What Does GRACE Mean To You?

Our first group training run, Feb. 2011

This is a question I have posed to myself many times over the last few years. When the idea for Team G(race) started to take shape in 2010, for years I had been wanting to start a running team, with the goal to help others run a half marathon. When Cynde and I officially launched Team G in 2011, that was our focus in the first couple of years, in addition to raising money for causes related to health and wellness for kids. We started with 10 people, counting both of us, at that first Saturday group run in February 2011, and 11 people ran the Flying Pig half that spring. With each training session and race thereafter, we picked up more people. As the team grew, we assumed more of a club feel versus a training program, but we continued to keep our charitable focus, periodically holding fundraising events and campaigns for specific causes. To date, we have raised over $36,000 for various causes, with a few examples being Girls on the Run Dayton, Dayton Children’s Hospital, and the Jenna Parlette Memorial Foundation.

Before I get to the point of this post, it is important to go back to 2010, and share how we came up with the name. We have never keep it a secret that we didn’t think of the name. I was running the Rock-n-Roll Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville in April 2010, and I was behind somebody wearing a shirt that said Team G(race), Chapel UMC, Chapel Hill, TN. I was intrigued, especially since Cynde and I were at the time forming the running team as a ministry of our church, Troy FUMC. After the race, I reached out to one of the contacts at Chapel Hill, shared how we wanted to create a similar team, and asked if we could use the same name. They were thrilled that their shirts were being noticed at the race, and had no issues with us using Team G(race).

We have never defined the meaning of our team name. Back when we were an outreach ministry under the umbrella of the Troy First United Methodist Church, people might assume that it had something to do with running for God (i.e. God’s Race). Or you could look at the definition of grace according to Merriam Webster and think that we are running with the divine assistance of God. No matter how people interpreted the name, we let our actions, offering support and encouragement to others during training runs and races, and raising funds and awareness for causes, speak for themselves.

A couple of years ago, Team G(race) moved under the umbrella of Free To Run Foundation, a nonprofit also based in Troy with a focus of social justice and raising awareness of human trafficking. Although technically one single nonprofit, Team G(race) has kept its own identity, and operates as a distinct program separate from Free To Run’s general initiatives. Since the move, I keep thinking about our identity. It’s great that we have grown so much, and we have made an impact on many lives. But, is it easy for anybody who is part of the team to talk about what defines Team Grace? What is our identity, or our values, or our mission? Generally, runners are known to be nice and supportive of each other. Recently, one of our members shared with me what somebody said to hear at a recent ORRRC Team Series event. They said that the teams are nice, but Team Grace is the nicest and most supportive team. I love to hear that! Cynde and I created the foundation, but the public perception of Team G has been steadily built by everybody who is part of the team.

What does Team Grace mean to you? Occasionally, an idea pops in my mind about the meaning of GRACE, using an acronym. Here are a couple of the recent ideas:

Gratitude in
Running
And
Cultivating
Empathy

Gratitude in
Running
And
Compassion for
Everybody

Perhaps we don’t need to define Team Grace any further, beyond maybe coming up with a solid mission statement. Yet, I’m curious if we have some untapped energy and potential that might materialize with a catchy and powerful motto or acronym. Have any ideas? Answer the poll question below. Thanks for reading and for providing your thoughts and feedback.

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