The annual Elementary Cross Country event at the Colonie Town Park in October gives younger students the opportunity to show off their fleet feet. But it also gives Shaker High School cross country athletes the chance to give back to those just starting the sport they love.
Junior Christopher Garretson is a member of the Varsity Cross Country team and was helping out with the event. The cross country teams jump in during the mile run to participate with the kids, pacing them and offering encouragement to students who might be struggling. In years past, they have also run with students who have special needs so they aren’t alone.
One mother reached out after the event, saying Christopher had run with her special needs child during the event, “staying with him” and “treating him like an equal.”
“It’s a small thing, but for a kid who is recognizing that he’s a little different, it’s a big deal,” the mother wrote. “For ten minutes, [Christopher] made my kid feel normal, and that is priceless.”
For his part, Christopher is very humble about the entire event. He says he simply tried to treat the student as he would any other, offering words of encouragement during the mile-long run. He also said that it’s important for high schoolers to remember the impact they can have on younger students. “They look up to you a lot more than you realize,” said Christopher, “and the little things have a big impact in the long term.”
Christopher’s cross country season isn’t quite done yet. This weekend he’s running in the Nike Cross Regionals at Bowdoin Park in Wappingers Falls, NY on Saturday.
Congratulations to Christopher Garretson, our North Colonie Kids Care Award winner for the month of November!