Where to begin on describing this event that held so much importance to me personally going in? Let me first state that I am ashamed to admit that, while I live only 4 hours from the city of Joplin, I did not assist in relief efforts following the devastating EF5 tornado that blew through five years ago. I am equally appalled that I have never actually BEEN in Joplin before this weekend. In fact, I erroneously assumed Joplin and Springfield, Missouri were very close when in actuality, they are over an hour apart. That said, I was in Joplin for selfish reasons.
Back in February, I inquired to Jeff Galloway about a way to speak with authority about his renowned running method, RunWalkRun. We will save the details on the idea for another day (It’s kinda important). I had been practicing the strategy for some time and was ready to take the leap and grow his flock. He replied with an offer to assist him in the formation of a certification track by which the Galloway Training Method could be delivered individually across the nation. I was obviously VERY interested.
Working with his training director, I studied diligently reading every publication they sent me, every article on line I could find and even listening to as many podcasts and public speaking engagements available. I have probably read more in the last 4 months than in the last 15 years combined! The idea behind the process was that by the May 20th running school Jeff was teaching in Joplin I would be ready to be unleashed to the masses. So I hurriedly registered for the Joplin Memorial Half & the Jeff Galloway Running School.
As the date approached, I began looking back on the tragedy, its aftermath and the resolve the city of Joplin showed in the face of adversity. I began trying to learn EVERYTHING I could about the people, the landscape… What I found were stories of heroism and humanity. Historic resilience that still is rewriting FEMA SOPs. I began to understand that this was bigger than me and my certification. As I drove into town, it was raining and dark so I was not able to see the rebuilding that had taken place.
In the morning, I was greeted with a city ready to be put on display. My breakfast with Jeff was chance as we both happened upon the continental at the same time. We were waited on by the most hospitable concierge who also happened to be the course designer’s daughter. Thank you for the warm welcome, Jillian. I stopped into a Walgreens for some last minute items and was warmly greeted by not only the employees, but every person I encountered. I began to wonder if this was normal. I have to say in the 36hrs I was in Joplin, I did not find a single ounce of anything other than genuine hospitality. I have to believe this is why the city of Joplin rose from the ashes like a Phoenix. Genuine care for one another. Nothing ever felt fake. I was beginning to fall in love with Joplin…