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Ester Marsh column: McFarland USA is a feel good, inspiring movie

If you haven’t yet seen the movie, you are missing out. It’s not just about running, it’s about a coach believing and supporting his team. It has team spirit, family and community support, and shows a team lifting up their coach in ways he could have never imagined. I went to see this with my Hurley YMCA Warrior family. This is one of those movies you want to see again and again. So, Lady Falcons — get ready for a movie night with our West cross country team!

To show you how small this world is, one of our parents, Lori Mason, has a sister in the VA who works with the wife of one of the original runners, Jose Cardenas. (Are you still with me?!) After she watched the movie, she said that she would try to get him to speak to our team. My dad always told me, “you have a ‘no’ (by not asking), but you can always try to get a ‘yes’ (by asking).” Well, Lori’s determination was very fruitful! We have the great pleasure and honor to have Jose Cardenas, one of the original runners from McFarland California, speak on March 28 at the Hurley Family YMCA at 5:30 p.m. It will be a spaghetti dinner cooked by Giuseppe, owner of Pinocchio’s in Spencer. Spaghetti, salad, dessert and a drink is $8 per plate. We are inviting anyone interested in hearing Jose speak. Spaces are limited.

Once again, this community is coming together. Courtyard by Marriott is donating a room for the night’s stay for Jose and his wife Melody. Cheerwine, the YMCA and other businesses are donating goodies for a gift basket we are putting together for Jose and Melody. He is coming to speak at no cost, and he is also currently serving in the US army. The determination of these young runners was amazing; they had to get up at 4.30 a.m. every morning to work the fields until it was time to go to school all day. After school they would go back to the fields to work and after that they would practice cross country running. And I thought I put in a lot of hours…

The family and community support of this majority Hispanic community is eye opening, heart warming, and I have great admiration of their family and community strength. It also shows that a community can thrive with the support of everyone. As a track and field and cross country coach myself, understanding the impact that is made by believing in someone is key. This is the case in all things in life.

I am proud to call Salisbury and Rowan County my home. In the 17½ years I have lived here, I have seen wonderful changes; one of them is that this community is becoming more active. More runners, cyclists, walkers and dog walkers are seen throughout town and county. Imagine what a true connected greenway can do. I would love to be able to ride my bike to work every day but to ride on N.C. 150 now would be a challenging choice for my health. But as McFarland USA shows, a community coming together can “move mountains.” Track and field and cross country are great passions of mine, and to see how it changed these young men’s and coaches lives is priceless. A chance to be part of a great community effort would be this Saturday, March 14. The Salisbury Fire Department is hosting the St. Patrick’s Day 5K at the Hurley YMCA. This is the first year that this is also a Road Runners of America Championship 5K race and now certified course! For more information, you can go to sportoften.com or we have flyers for this race at the Hurley YMCA. I hope to see you there on Saturday! If you always wanted to be a runner or “wogger” (walking/jogger) and just don’t know where to start or love to be part of a community/ family, Novant Health Rowan Medical Center is hosting a beginner runner’s class. The class will meet on Tuesdays, starting this Tuesday at the hospital, and lasts for eight weeks. The cost is $65, which includes a one-year membership to Rowan Runners, a Dri-fit T-shirt and an entry to Bare Bones 5K on May 23. Community support, team spirit and family and friend togetherness — isn’t that what life should be all about?

For a feel good, inspirational movie, go see McFarland. To listen to a man who defied his odds from being a lifetime “picker,” reserve your ticket for our spaghetti dinner on March 28. To make that first step to a healthier you, join the beginner runner’s class at Novant or come to the Y. To run or walk in a championship race, I will see you Saturday, March 14 at the Hurley YMCA for the St. Patrick’s Day 5K!

Ester Marsh, Health & Fitness Director JF Hurley family YMCA

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