Not a single person yawned Sunday morning.
Even when an air horn wailed three times to signal the start of three different races — a 5-kilometer, a 10-kilometer, and a half-marathon — runners participating in The Riverdale Y’s annual Riverdale Run event were all smiles.
The Run took place May 14, which just happened to be Mother’s Day. It was part of the organization’s annual fundraiser to support all of their programs like the Y’s scholarship fund to help families enroll their children in nursery schools, after-school programs and summer camps.
Based on the diverse crowd the run attracts every year, the current political climate, and the decision to have the run on Mother’s Day, the Y wanted to convey a positive message to Riverdale. This year’s theme emphasized the importance of community and unity.
The uplifting spirit stuck with the organization as cheering and encouragement echoed through not just Arlington Avenue but Riverdale Avenue, too, where one volunteer was stationed to keep an eye on traffic.
“In addition to all of the many ways that we bring the whole community together, this one event in particular does that all at once, and it’s this incredible fun spirit,” Deann Forman, chief executive of the Y, said. “We are all in this community together.”
Nigel Ryan, the Y’s marketing and communications director, has only worked for the organization the past three years. But even in that short time, he’s seen Riverdale’s steep hill attract residents and people from outside New York so much that registration now opens five months before the actual race, on Jan. 1.
The event’s reach is so broad that Forman said an old high school friend of hers from Rhode Island once found his way to Riverdale.
The biggest takeaway for Ryan, however, is watching people of all ages participate.
“I think the most inspiring thing is just seeing families run together,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just little kids going with them, or finishing uphill with a stroller is really something.”
Nadeem Kazi, the Y’s fitness director, has similar thoughts. Despite holding this position for only a month after being a personal trainer at the facility for three years, Kazi took on organizing this event with the intent to continue improving it.
“I want to keep the good work the Y has done in the past and just try to make it as fun as possible for runners, spectators and volunteers,” he said.
Forman hopes the Riverdale Run continues to be a place of harmony for community members.
“One of the things that I love about this place is that people come here specifically to interact in a meaningful way with other people who are not all just like them,” she said. “It’s so important that we can all come together to support more of that.”