The following is a Letter to the Editor of The News Reporter, written by former Take the Lake President and current U.S. Peace Corps volunteer Mark Gilchrist, in early September, 2015.
As nearly 1,000 people “took” Lake Waccamaw this weekend, I cheered every one of them on from 5,000 miles away.
I helped organize Take the Lake for six years, and when I left this summer for Peace Corps service in Moldova, I wasn’t sure how I would feel with it all going on without me. Well, turns out that I missed it very much, but I was excited and even giddy all weekend as I watched it unfold on social media and on Whiteville.com.
All of the organizers, volunteers, partners and participants did an incredible job and should be very proud!
The committee is already preparing their “Thank You” notes, so, I am writing this to thank one person
in particular on behalf of the people of Columbus County, and to ask for your help.
Thank you, Julie Stocks.
Now, those who know Stocks will not be surprised to hear of the incredible job she has done leading this effort. When I announced early last year that I would be leaving, she quickly stepped up to ensure that Take the Lake would continue. She began organizing a new team of volunteers in 2014, while I was still in Columbus County, and she took over completely this year.
Stocks has taken this enormous role reluctantly, however, with the hope that others will someday step up to take her place.
I have felt about Take the Lake much in the way a parent does with a child. I knew I couldn’t father it forever, and my greatest hope has always been that, after I let go of its hand, it would grow to be bigger and stronger than I could ever make it.
Here in the Peace Corps, we talk a lot about sustainability. After 50 years of creating projects around the world, and leaving many of them to fail, we are now very careful to plan each project with a look decades into the future.
Is Take the Lake sustainable? It will be as long as Stocks can keep steering it, or if someone equally capable and passionate succeeds her. She is building an impressive committee, and the other members of the Take the Lake Foundation board of directors, Walter Palmer, Coburn Powell and Eric Brandt, have a strong interest in continuing what has become a popular Columbus County tradition.
But, one thing that separates Take the Lake from thousands of fitness events of its size, is that it is free to participate. We have been funded enthusiastically by sponsors over the years, but those other events have something more valuable than the entry fees they charge. See, a fitness event with an entry fee usually supports a local charity, and that charity then has a strong interest in its organization.
While Take the Lake has donated thousands of dollars over the years, no group will take the responsibility of organizing the event without being solely funded by it. This is perfectly reasonable, and, by the way, it makes Stocks’ work all that much more beautiful; she and her committee give hundreds of hours to this project each year, purely out of love for their community and out of their desire to help people be healthy.
I say all that to let you know that, yes, Take the Lake is as strong as ever, but it stands on a foundation that is more fragile than that of other fitness events. So, I invite you to join the Take the Lake committee, help them decide on a theme for 2016, and gear up for another year. You might even find yourself choosing a leading role in the largest fitness event in Columbus County.
Visit the Take the Lake website at www.Takethelake.org to learn more and to contact the committee.
There exists an exciting opportunity for leadership in Take the Lake, a chance to take its hand and to help it grow far bigger and stronger than I ever could.
Join in the TTL training fun, and leave a comment!
Take the Lake would not be possible without our generous sponsors. Thank you for supporting fitness and good health in our community!
Thank you to our sponsors!
Columbus Regional Healthcare System
The John A. McNeill Family
Carolina Sports Medicine
Council Tool Company
Friends of Rube McCrae Memorial Library
Hill's Food Stores
Southeastern Community College
Baldwin Woods Pharmacy
Dale's Seafood Restaurant
Powell and Powell Law
Sam’s Pit Stop
Special Service Sponsors
Body Shapers Fitness Center
Lake Time Vintiques
The News Reporter
Take a few minutes and reel through the years of Take the Lake, as we review the many themes and posters that have helped make fitness more fun in Columbus County! Click here
After spending several years at the very bottom of the County Health Ranking -- as the least healthy county in all of North Carolina -- we have improved our lifestyles enough to move up to 96, and we are proud to be so healthy!
DID YOU KNOW...
that the second-most-popular Boy Scout merit badge in the U.S. is for Swimming? And the ninth-most-popular is Personal Fitness? Yes!
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all four PECs.
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