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Team AGTS runs with perseverance in first 5K race

by Sara N. Phillips,
AGTS Public Relations Coordinator (1998-2003)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1 (NIV).

Sweat, pain, sacrifice, and discipline depicts the perseverance 22 AGTS students, faculty, staff, and administrators endured while training for several months in preparation for their first 5K race as a team on May 11.

Nervously waiting in anticipation as almost 600 runners made their way towards the starting line, Team AGTS, dressed in navy-blue team t-shirts, was ready for the race. BAM! The gun went off and the race was on.

Whether walking, running, or pushing a baby-stroller, Team AGTS had determination to finish the race marked out for them. Several months prior to the race a few AGTS employees began preparing for the annual Kitchen 5K Fun Run, which benefits the Kitchen Inc., a not-for-profit organization for the homeless and poverty-stricken people of Springfield. The word quickly spread like wildfire as interest arose in the AGTS community about the 5K run. Every Tuesday evening after work, many students, staff, faculty, and administrators joined together at the Evangel University track next door to AGTS to do a 2-3 mile run/walk.

The Tuesday practices did more than prepare us to physically complete a 5K. I feel it accomplished several things,” said AGTS CAMS manager David Godzwa. “First, it helped to facilitate a true team spirit that made the race more fulfilling. We were truly representing the school as we ran the 3.1 miles. Second, it brought together the disparate sections of the AGTS community into a cohesive unit with a common goal. That enabled us to see administrators, faculty, staff and students in a new, positive light. Finally, the training for the 5K has served as a launching point for several members of the team to begin to think of fitness as a lifetime achievement. As they pursue this goal, the confidence gained and the lessons learned can help to make them better employees and students and, perhaps, better people.”

The weekly practice “made a solid statement to employees and students that the seminary is committed not only to academic and spiritual growth, but also to healthy living,” said AGTS business director David Willemsen. “I think it helped bolster confidence in some employees in their physical abilities and also helped others to start changing their lifestyles.”

The AGTS Board of Administration made a commitment this year to provide fitness incentives and to encourage employees to live healthier lifestyles.

“This was a real incentive to start getting into shape,” Willemsen said. “For me personally, it enhanced my love for running. For many years I had no commitment to a healthy lifestyle and my 300+ pound body demonstrated that neglect.”

As Willemsen changed his habits over the years, his health began to improve. “I began to feel great and to do things I was never able to do before. So, now I am intrinsically motivated and want to share this message with others. Our bodies are the only things God has to build His Kingdom. The healthier we are, the better equipped we are for service.” Willemsen said he would like to see a couple chapel services devoted to physical health and wellness and the link between physical fitness and spirituality.

Some members of Team AGTS were avid walkers before training for the 5K. “Walking outside has increased my energy level, helped me shed a few pounds, and given me an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the changing seasons for the past three years,’ said AGTS Admissions director Dorothea Lotter who walks 15 miles per week. With no intentions of running, she joined the team on Tuesdays at the track. She began to jog and her endurance strengthened. During the Kitchen 5K Fun Run Lotter not only ran most of the race, but she beat the recorded times of close to half of the 5K participants.

“It was great fun,” Lotter said. “I would absolutely do it again. It was rewarding knowing we were making a difference for a good cause.” Over $59,000 was raised for the Kitchen Inc. to help after-school and summer programs for children.

For many, like Lotter, this was the first time to run/walk a 5K. And for several, the goal was to simply finish the race. Godzwa, who has recently completed a marathon, took initiative, to help coordinate team practices on Tuesdays and to send weekly email tips about health, wellness, and running. The motivational tips from Godzwa encouraged many not to give up. Numerous students and employees who participated in the 5K said their overall performance was better than they predicted.

Godzwa said, “The experience has been extremely fulfilling. It has been neat to see how Team AGTS has taken on an importance and a success that is bigger than I could have imagined. It is a benefit that reaches beyond the Kitchen Run. The excitement that has been generated and the community that has been built, constantly reminds me of the quality people that work and study here at AGTS. It’s a great thing to be a part of.”

Team AGTS continues to run/walk together every Tuesday and plans to prepare for the Sunshine 10K race in October.

  Updated: Thursday, August 12, 2010 11:00 AM

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