"There's someone lying on the ground over there", the man told me, "He's not moving".
He was right to be concerned. Despite our efforts to keep it fun, some had troubles. If it was cold and windy, the asthmatics suffered for it. Then there were always those who had no clue what the term "pacing" means. Parents and grandparents showed up, and sometimes got a little too caught up in the action.
I looked across the field to where this parent, new to the school, was pointing. He was correct. Someone was lying on the ground across the field from us, not moving at all, while the other kids continued with their laps.
I turned back to the concerned parent. "It's okay", I said, "that's Mr. Steve".
|Mr. Steve, getting the troops ready|
Mr. Steve is the much loved P.E. teacher at the school. He's been there since the school opened, around 30 years ago.
Even though Run With Lumber was a PTO fundraising event, I always relied on Mr. Steve. He'd get the field ready, and more importantly, he'd get the kids ready. They all loved him, and he could inspire them like no other.
Although he was a leader to whom all the kids looked up, he's actually quite a rather softspoken, unassuming guy. Very laid back. I suspect that a lot of that is really just quiet wisdom of a man whose group of coworkers consists of about 95% women.
His wife is also a teacher, who used to teach at the school. A piece of school trivia is that Mr. Steve proposed to Mrs. Mr. Steve during a Pride Assembly. I'd have loved to have been there to see it!
|The Human Hurdle, getting into position|
Another thing he's known for is, every Run With Lumber, he spends part of each group's run as "The Human Hurdle", hence the laying-on-the-ground-not-moving. He bravely lies in the path of runners - including kindergartners who can be poor judges of distance, and 5th graders who can just be downright nasty.
He just retired from the school. While everyone is certainly happy for him, it's sad to see him go. Two weeks ago today, I went up to the school to turn in my crossing guard getup, and he was there cleaning out the last of his stuff. We had a nice visit, and I know he looks forward to an active retirement. He's an avid outdoorsman - loves hiking, camping, and river rafting.
Mr. Steve lives in Black Forest. His was one of the 389 (so far) homes that made the "Total Loss" column.
At least his family's safe. And it didn't take long for the sad news to spread through the school community, staff and parents alike. Everyone I've talked to wants to do something for them, and I'm sure something will be organized soon.
Because it's Mr. Steve.