YMCA Gala 2015

This is an annual gala to benefit the YMCA – Fairfax County, which provides a variety of services—from childcare to summer camps to senior services—to residents of Fairfax County, Virginia.  I’ve been on the board since 2002 and roll off at the end of this year.  We’ve been attending this gala for almost that long and have fond memories of the event.  It’s the first black tie event the kids have ever attended (their first one was when they were 9 and 6).  It has also helped them to learn about philanthropy (and the etiquette of attending black tie events).
This year’s theme was “Finding the Superhero in Everyone.”  As usual, it was a wonderful event.  It’s held at the YMCA gym every year, and it’s always fun to see the gym decorated for the gala.  (It does also remind me a bit of a high school prom, but I have excellently wonderful memories of my high school prom, so that’s all right.)  Oh, and just for the record, I am the shortest person in the family.  Heels are the only reason that I’m taller than our daughter in the photo.  🙂
To find out more about the YMCA – Fairfax County, go to www.ymcadc.org/reston.

YMCA Template (87)

YMCA – Fairfax County 2014 Gala

We attended the Fairfax County Y gala on Saturday, November 15. The theme of the gala was “Unmask Your Potential” and Mardi Gras-themed masks were the order of the day. (To the woman who wore the two feet high peacock blue feathered mask, one word: Don’t.)

The gala raises money for underprivileged kids to attend day care and summer camp at the Y. While Fairfax County is an affluent county, there is a surprisingly high population of poor families, especially the working poor (those who make too much money to qualify for aid but not enough to afford childcare).

All five of us attended the gala in full mask regalia. The event was held at the Y in Reston. The gym was beautifully decorated, and it was quite the festive occasion.

2014 Y Gala

Getting ready for the Y gala

2014 Y gala

Most importantly, money was raised to help the underprivileged kids in the area. You can find out more about the Y at www.ymcadc.org.

Disney Half-Marathon & 5K

Jim and I have been training to run a half-marathon since June.  (I haven’t wanted to mention it because I didn’t want to jinx us.)  We chose the Disney Wine and Dine Half-Marathon which was held at Disneyworld this past weekend on the theory that if we were really going to run a half-marathon, what better place to run it than at Disneyworld?

Training has had its ups and downs.  But, fortunately, the wonderful thing about training together is that very rarely do we have the same timing.  So, for example, about 2 months into our training, I hit a wall, and if it weren’t for Jim, I would never have gotten out of bed to run.  But he pushed me out the door and once we were at the track, it was much easier to just go ahead and do it.

We did most of our training at the Y for two reasons.  First, running outside during a Washington, DC summer and the accompanying heat and humidity would have resulted in us stopping almost immediately, either because we would have ended up in the ER due to heat exhaustion or because we would have moved immediately to the West Coast where there’s no humidity.  And, second, the track was easier on our knees.  Despite all our precautions, we ended up with some training injuries.  Jim pulled a thigh muscle and then a calf muscle and lost about a month of training near the end.  My knees started hurting about a month ago, and I’ve alternated between knee braces and knee bands to help with the pain.  A new pair of shoes also helped.  (I like Adidas Tempos.)  We discovered that wristbands for our ipod nanos really made running to music easier, and we created a running playlist with up tempo music (with many suggestions from our teenage daughter).

Some friends of ours very kindly volunteered to come down with us.  They and our kids ran Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K on Saturday morning through Animal Kingdom.  I’m told it was quite the festive atmosphere with Disney characters lined up along the route, the park decorated for Christmas, and Christmas music piped in.

After the 5K, we all had breakfast, and then our friends took their kids and ours to the Magic Kingdom while Jim and I napped and stressed about the race.  We spent some time by the pool (we were staying at the Yacht Club), had a light dinner, and then headed to the start point.  Our friends also watched the kids for the evening.  (I know, I wouldn’t have done it either.)

The half-marathon didn’t start until 10:00 pm Saturday.  Because it was our first half-marathon, we were in the last group that didn’t start until closer to 10:30.  It was a cool night (mid-60s), but you didn’t notice it once you started running.  The race started at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, wound its way through Animal Kingdom, then through Hollywood Studios, and finally through the front half of Epcot, finishing up at the Epcot parking lot.

The first 5 miles went very smoothly.  I will say that while I have always thought of Disneyworld as being relatively flat, I have revised my opinion.  🙂  As with the 5K, there was much visual stimulation to be found.  There were various Disney characters along the way (I remember the dancing hippos from Fantasia most vividly), there were colorfully decorated and themed mile markers, and live bands playing up-tempo music.

Miles 6-10 were more difficult but still quite manageable.  At Mile 11.5, Jim came down with leg cramps, which made the last mile and a half somewhat tortuous (especially for him).  But we finished in about 3 hours (he gave me permission to run the last mile without him).  There was an after-party at Epcot that we cheerfully ditched.  We were in our hotel room by about 2:30 am and in bed a little after 3:00 am after icing our various aching body parts.  We were up at 6:45 to see our friends off and then to celebrate our daughter’s birthday.  With the help of some Advil and ice, we managed to hobble around Epcot for the better part of the day before flying home.

Running the half-marathon was a surprisingly fun experience, but, then, it is Disney, after all.  We really feel like we have accomplished something that we never dreamed was possible 5 months ago.  But the idiocy only goes so far.  We are most definitely NOT running a full marathon!

YMCA – Fairfax County

The YMCA – Fairfax County is part of the metropolitan DC area set of YMCAs.  Its mission is to build strong kids, strong families, and strong communities.  While Fairfax County one of the most affluent counties in Virginia, the resulting high cost of living makes it difficult for those of more modest incomes to make ends meet.  The working poor are particularly hard hit—those who make enough not to qualify for financial assistance available for the poor but who do not make enough to afford the cost of living in Fairfax County.  In 2010, the Fairfax County branch gave more than $300,000 in financial scholarships to kids and their families, primarily for child care and summer camp.

I have been on the Board of YMCA – Fairfax County for almost 10 years.  What I like about the Y is that it is community based and reaches out to the local businesses and communities to make our region more welcoming and more livable for everyone.  I also like the emphasis on kids’ health.  The earlier you can teach a child about the benefits of healthy eating and regular exercise, the better off that child is for the rest of his/her life.  And the working poor are too often neglected.  These are families who are doing all the right things, often holding down multiple jobs, to try and carve a better life out for their children.  The safety net is not set up to help families like these, and the Y is an organization that can step in and ease the burden.  You can find out more about the Y at www.ymcadc.org (click on “Locations” and then “Fairfax County Reston” to find out more about this particular branch).