Sense of Community at Greater Midland is Inspiring

Sense of Community at Greater Midland is Inspiring

Hair or no hair, they didn’t care.

“The day I showed up to teach class at the Community Center after losing all my hair from chemotherapy, I wondered how the kids would react to me,” said Jenny Roan. “But there wasn’t a kid in that gym who cared if I had hair or not … they were just happy to be here and ready to play.”

Now a decade after treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Jenny still recalls the way her Community Center “family” kept her going during that challenging time.

“They motivated me to keep doing my thing, and to stay as happy and healthy as I could by being active and being here with the kids,” said Jenny, now 44 years old and cancer-free.

Jenny has worked much of her life at the Greater Midland Community Center, serving in her teens as a camp counselor, youth basketball official and child caregiver before being hired full-time nearly 20 years ago in youth sports. Today she works as Athletics and Race Director for the nonprofit organization.

But one thing that hasn’t changed through the years is the sense of community. 

“We pride ourselves in running community race events. So whether you participate by racing or by volunteering or just show up as a spectator, we always want you to feel like you’re a part of that excitement and fun and community,” she said.

Greater Midland has expanded its race offerings through the years.

“We really have something for everybody: From kids who are 3 years old doing the Tot Trot, all the way on up to people who are 80 and 90 years old that wouldn’t miss our races for anything,” she said. (See box for upcoming races)

Greater Midland’s biggest race is the Dow RunWalk on May 20 with more than 3,000 racers projected to participate this year.

All Greater Midland races also include a “giving back” component. A portion of the proceeds from the April 22 Great Lakes Loons Pennant Race, for example, benefit track and field teams at Midland Public Schools, Roan said.

There are also a series of race prep opportunities to help newcomers and veterans train for a 5K, 10K, half-marathon or triathlon.

“We offer instruction, coaching and support for anyone who thinks racing is something they’d like to try but are unsure how to do it,” said Jenny, who coaches every year for the Dow RunWalk race prep series.

“Being involved keeps me motivated to continue working out, staying healthy and being active. These are my people.”