California couple donate to Runnin ‘for Rhett youth fitness program
Jim and Pat Drake of Gold River lost their 36-year-old daughter in a plane crash in 2008, and the pain of losing a child resonated with them, as did their cause to honor the memory of the child they they lost.
This memory, a love of running and a history of Sacramento Bee led the Drakes to give a gift of $ 20,000 to buy shoes.
Jim Drake said he was drinking his morning coffee while on vacation and came across a bee story and a large photo of smiling kids ready to take off for the December 5K “Run Because You Can” at Crocker Park. The runners were part of the Runnin ‘for Rhett program formed by Randy and Beth Seevers.
The story was part of Bee’s annual Book of Dreams. He highlighted Seevers’ youth training programs and the dream of receiving donations to buy shoes for 1,000 students for the upcoming spring and fall races.
The Seevers also lost a child, Rhett, 7, in 2004, which ultimately prompted them to create the program on his behalf.
“I was trying to wake up; I was flipping through the pages and then I saw this article, ”Jim Drake said. “I put it aside and said to my wife, ‘I think we should donate shoes… let’s round it off to $ 20,000.’ It felt good.
With shared loss and a common connection to running – Jim Drake, 81, was once an avid runner – they met last week to share memories and talk about the generous gift to make the dream come true and more. The four first met at the Sacramento Fleet Feet on J Street.
“This donation will help us put on shoes for a lot more children and we are just more than thankful,” said Randy Seevers.
Both couples have suffered a loss and want to help others. They believe in the great good of introducing children to running. It gives them a challenge, helps them get back in shape, is a lot of fun and can kickstart a healthy lifestyle, said Jim Drake.
And both have connections to putting on shoes and running for miles.
Running has changed the course of all four of their lives and continues to change the trajectory of the thousands of children who will become physically active because of them.
On the first anniversary of Rhett’s death, Beth ran the Shamrockin St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon in memory of her son.
In 2010, the Seevers had launched Runnin ‘for Rhett youth training programs to help kids do something their own son couldn’t.
In 2017, they realized that they also had to provide shoes for many children whose parents could not afford sportswear. Full steam ahead, the Runnin ‘for Rhett program sponsors fitness programs at 75 area schools and hosts two races per year. In one year, up to 7,000 children aged 5 to 18 will participate in their two 5K events.
Drake retired many years ago from a career in the insurance industry and has spent years as an avid runner. At 36, he decided to quit smoking and get active.
“When I started it took me a month to be able to run a mile,” he said.
At 56, he said, he held the North American record for covering 213 straight miles in 48 hours in the 50 and over category.
He also ran 100 mile races six times before getting old, he said.
Today, he does “a little” of running, but his favorite sport is cycling.
“An agent of change who creates good”
Ben Cooke, director of business development for Fleet Feet Sacramento, has teamed up with Runnin ‘for Rhett to purchase New Balance’s children’s shoes for a lower price.
He watched the two couples on Wednesday talk about children and run past the J Street store. Jim Drake brought the diary page with the story that motivated him to donate.
“At the end of the day… running is an agent of change that creates good,” he said. “When one good thing leads to another, it rolls and goes. This creates collateral benefits in one community that accumulates, an advantage over the other. Runnin ‘for Rhett is the perfect example. It feels so good.
The quartet later entered the store to commemorate their meeting by taking a photo against the background of a baby blue Volkswagen bus turned into a shoe rack. Coincidentally, it was the same baby blue color that marks Runnin ‘for Rhett.
Above their heads, hanging on the wall, was a large sticker that said, “Running changes everything.
For the generous quartet and the kids who otherwise couldn’t participate in Runnin ‘for Rhett without donated shoes, the sticker seemed like a fitting reminder.
“Running for Rhett seems to give the kids great hope,” said Jim Drake. “If they can get into sports like this and have the right shoes on, it will create memories that will never go away.”
This story was originally published January 11, 2022 5:00 a.m.