By Sue Minton
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Exercise is good. Family exercise is wonderful.
“Team Rudder” which includes Marc and Heather Rudder, along with their children, Noah, 13, and Olivia, 9, just completed their first 5K race.
Heather started running as a way to help her children get in better shape for soccer.
“Noah played on the soccer team at North Laurel Middle this past spring and Olivia played indoor soccer at Richmond and for the Optimist Club,” she said. “This was a way for the kids to build up their endurance and a way for me to get in better shape. I had not ran since playing basketball at London Elementary School.”
Marc, a member of Bush Volunteer Fire Department and coordinator for Area 13 State Fire Rescue Training, quickly joined in and started running as a way to help with his fire fighting physical skills and endurance.
Many people pick up running for exercise and weight loss, while others enjoy the challenge of training for a race.
Although running is not for everyone, it is a great activity that not only can keep you healthy, it can be a great family activity.
The Rudders usually run in downtown London or go to Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park, the high school’s tracks and even around the Optimist Club fields.
“If the kids are practicing somewhere we use that as an opportunity to run,” Heather said. “Noah and Olivia do not run by themselves. We are always with them. They enjoy everyone being together as a family.”
The siblings are very competitive and feed off each other’s talents.
“Olivia always wants to finish first or be in the front,” Noah said. “Noah always wants to be in the lead,” Olivia replied.
Heather has completed five 5K races (3.1 miles each) since March, Marc has completed four, and the kids have completed one.
Children are natural runners, but Noah and Olivia were a bit nervous about their first race scheduled for the morning after they returned from church camp with the Laurel River Baptist Association.
“They were not real excited at first,” Heather said. “Our goal was to finish and afterwards I think they realized what they had accomplished by finishing the race.”
“This distance was great for the kids to succeed and not feel overwhelmed or frustrated.”
Marc and Heather want their children to know the excitement of setting a goal. “We have set goals and Noah and Olivia have set personal goals for themselves,” Heather said. “But we want to instill a positive attitude and ensure that our children have the ability to achieve any goals they set. Nothing is impossible. And, we try to stay positive and be a motivator for them.
“A lot of times we think of Susan (Wright) when we are going to run, a niece who passed away in January 2007 from complications from Friedreich’s Ataxia and was confined to a wheelchair, and how she would have loved to have been able to run like we do.
“The other night we were in London running and there was a child being pushed in a wheelchair. I immediately thought of her and mentioned to Marc how Susan would have loved to have been able to run and how we don’t realize how blessed we are and how sometimes we take for granted our ability to walk and run.”
Marc, a volunteer fireman, and Heather, assistant lab director at Saint Joseph London, know how important it is to exercise and be healthy.
“It is important for children to learn that exercise and fitness can be enjoyable,” Heather said.
Learning to run as a family is one of the most rewarding ways to spend time together. Not only does it offer time for talking and keeping in touch with one another, but it places value on a healthy, fit lifestyle. “That is something children will benefit from their entire lives.”
Noah, an eighth grader at North Laurel Middle, is planning on playing soccer this fall and Olivia, a fourth grader, is planning on playing soccer and running cross county at Bush Elementary.
“I think running has and will help them. They will be able to play longer and not be as tired as before,” Heather said. “Cross country is something new this year in the elementary schools and Olivia is excited about doing something different.”
Overall Heather thinks Noah and Olivia have seen how beneficial exercise is and how much they have improved. “We are really proud of how far they both have come.”
Noah and Olivia may sit out the next 5K race — Marc and Heather are planning on competing in a 5K race to celebrate their 17th anniversary.
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The annual Susan Wright Memorial fundraiser is scheduled to be held the first weekend in October at Wildcat Harley-Davidson this year.