Officials from the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project (NNSDP) recognized members of the NNSDP/Navajo Nation Reservation Running Club with certificate awards and backpack-cooler-seats Feb. 20 in a ceremony at the Window Rock Wellness Center.
NNSDP Public Information Officer Ray Baldwin Louis expressed his appreciation to the runners for their efforts to stay physically fit and to set health-related goals.
Recreation Specialist Darwin Mitchell from the Fort Defiance service area of the NNSDP and Lemont L. Yazzie of Saint Michael, Ariz. began the recognition ceremony for the running club members. Yazzie also serves as coach and advisor of the running club.
"It was a dream of mine to start a running club locally," said Yazzie. "I know there are many runners throughout the Navajo Nation. I thought it would be beneficial to have a group of runners competing together, and to have them encourage one another at certain events locally and throughout the region. I can say that we have accomplished this. We have runners participating in local runs and in marathons or half-marathons in Albuquerque, Phoenix, and in other areas."
Mitchell said that he was pleased with the members of the running club and noticed that 23 runners have been consistent in participating at multiple running events throughout 2012.
"Lemont and I talked about the running club and we felt that we should recognize them for their efforts even though they did not expect to receive anything for their participation," said Mitchell. "They have really encouraged one another at local runs. It has been good to see them go out of their way and encourage members of the club when they come to the finish line."
Yazzie added that members of the club will begin running again in March. Currently most of the runners are working out at the wellness center on their own or at other runs.
"It is nice to be recognized and to know that people actually care about what you are doing," said Mary Modrich-Alvarado. "It encourages you and it makes you feel like doing more to improve."
Modrich-Alvarado said one of her goals when she joined the running club was to run in a half-marathon. She ran the P.F. Chang half-marathon in Phoenix. She said she ran pretty well and reached her time goal for completion.
Laura Johnson said her goal when she joined the running club was to run in a marathon. She ran in the P.F. Chang marathon also in Phoenix. She said that the running club prepared her for the run and although she felt weak at the end, she completed the run barely a few minutes over her goal.
Running club members include April Ashley, Glenda Begay, Ronnie Ben, Peter Brossy, Merle Chischilly, Nathan Francisco, Nancy Gale-Begay, Ron Haven, Jodie Henderson, Willie James, Laura Johnson, Marty Johnson, Mariana Kahn, Coreta Keeto, Kim Keeto, Mary Modrich-Alvarado, Judy Nez, Anthony Sandoval, William Slim, Wimberly Slim, Doris Tsosie, Erika Walker, and Michelle Yazzie. They all received certificates and seats.
Dannell Begay, Crystal Gale, Ray Joe, Patrick Roberts, Orlando Walker, Brittany Curley, Edith Morris, Leslie Morris, Sheldon Harvey, and Leandra Montoya all qualified for certificates.
More information about the running club and other running events in connection with the NNSDP in the Fort Defiance Agency is available from Mitchell at (928) 871-4490.