I have been asked to reflect upon the 10 years of the “Chevy to the Levee.”
First, as one might suspect, I am surprised that 10 years have elapsed since Jeff Neelon and Maria Parker asked the dealership if we would be interested in sponsoring a fall running event similar to, but not exactly like, the annual “Rumba to the Lumber.” It is the difference between the two events that I will first address.
Since we were given “artistic freedom” with developing the event, besides the fact people would be running just like the Rumba, we fashioned the Chevy around the concept of the old “Show Day” in the car business. We would have new cars for people to see and sit in along with family activities that would be free to the event participants. From that came canoe rides and climbing walls, hay rides and horseshoes. We decided that since this was a family event, we would hold it on a family day, Sunday.
Though it is now on Saturday for logistical reasons, in my heart this is still a Sunday event. How can one not smile and feel good about the day when you stand on the edge of the lake and watch countless canoes filled with children who may have never been in a canoe flit about the lake like a bunch of waterbugs?
If the Chevy has accomplished nothing else, though it certainly has, the pictures of Luther Britt Park alive with families sharing good old-fashioned fun has been worth the effort.
Another of our objectives with the Chevy was the opportunity to raise money for organizations that quietly go about ministering to our neighbors and friends and even to those we have never met. We have searched for organizations that typically fall through the cracks when time to donate arrives because they are not high profile or the objective of their mission must necessarily be kept quiet. Often these organizations operate on a “shoe-string budget,” so the $5,000 or $10,000 raised at the Chevy is truly a blessing. We have helped special needs students and abused children, families struggling with violence and women fighting breast cancer. We, and through your participation in our events you, are given the opportunity to experience the meaning of the Beatitudes and bring to life the awareness of “to whom much is given, much will be required.”
We are not all runners; I in fact am at best a dedicated walker, but each of us has contributed steps toward a better county and more meaningful place to live. This year we are helping young girls in their efforts to be runners, not just for sport but for health.
So come out to Luther Britt Park this Saturday. Be a part of a greater race than just a 5K. In a political season when every ad or radio spot highlights the differences between us, the “Chevy” is a reminder of all that binds us together. I plan to be standing by the lake again this year believing that our best days are ahead, as a county and nation, so please come by and say hello.
Chevrolet’s lastest advertising slogan is “Chevy runs deep.” How true. The “Rumba and Chevy” are there to remind us that faith and friendship, charity and hope do in fact run deep in Robeson County. Let’s celebrate the 10 years of the “Chevy” together and commit ourselves to the ideals the race promotes.
Jerry Johnson is a consultant at Lumberton Chevrolet, which sponsors the annual Chevy to the Levee.