Sisters in Touch invited me out to volunteer at Chicago’s Marathon 2016, sponsored by Bank of America. The night before, I said a quick prayer asking for the best experience I can imagine. Well, I got that. My journey began meeting Michelle, the organizer for Sisters in Touch.
Walking to Chicago’s CTA, Michelle and I talked is if we knew one another for years. Her easy and calm spirit helped calm my jitters. Volunteering for a major event like the Chicago Marathon felt fantastic. I wanted the day to be as close to perfect as possible. People from around the world travel to experience running through Chicago’s landscape with cheering fans watching from south to north and west to east.
Michelle talked about the years she volunteered for the marathon. Just from our short ride to downtown Chicago, I knew I was in good company. She’s passionate about inspiring African-American women to continue loving and sharing our gift of caring for others through volunteering. It’s a time to network and mingle with women with the same vision to give.
Michelle’s story is what our communities in Chicagoland should spread across social media. She sincerely wants to shine a positive light on the image of African-American women. We give quietly and don’t ask for much in return. We show up when we’re needed. No matter what, the spirit of women gathering to make a difference is the magic people are talking about on social media platforms. That magic comes without effort. It is embedded in our soul. Let’s keep tweeting #blackgirlmagic and #blackgirlsrock.
Our job was to return personal belongings to runners after their long run. As the runners returned for their checked bags, we cheered for them, congratulated them and gave them warm smiles. Most runners were able to smile through the pain and discomfort. It was easy to keep the momentum as the event came to a close. Our mission was to brighten the spirit of runners. It’s amazing how the event brought people together from different backgrounds. We all forgot we were different for the day.
As I took moments to capture images of the event, I couldn’t help but notice the effort different organizations, fraternities, sororities, and individuals took to make the experience flow seamlessly. We were all one people. As divided the rest of the country believes Chicago to be, it was apparent at Chicago’s marathon we were one team.
Sisters in Touch was a small part of the effort but a mighty force in one tent. We waited patiently. No runner was more important than the other. Slower runners got the same enthusiasm as faster runners. Runners from different countries got the same big smiles as locals. Men were welcomed with the same cheer as women. Color didn’t exist. We were one.