Bigger Than Me
My name is Terry E. Whitfield, and this journey began in 2020 as my attempt to improve who I am. It was through the process of completing my first One Man Marathon when the reason for the process changed, and I realized that this effort was bigger than me. This quest became an opportunity to remind my city of our most important commodity... Our young people.
And when it comes to our young people, the conversation should begin with a simple question:
How are the children?
In today's America, this is a question that becomes harder to answer. 2020 positioned a ten-thousand-watt spotlight on the myriad of generational inequities that face Black/Brown communities. This reality compounds the ill-effects of generational poverty, leaving our children and youth susceptible to the negative impact anxiety and toxic stress has on their overall development. Coupled with the wide ranging impacts COVID-19, our children and youth are not doing very well... right now.
I have been blessed to serve 13 years of my professional career as in instrument for change for Detroit’s children and youth. From providing direct service programming, to facilitating youth-led community organizing, to supporting the practices and programming that impact the development of our youth, Detroit’s kids have been a part of my personal/professional “why”. Yet, kids were not the original reason for this my journey to 26.2. That honor is given to a film, Brittany Runs a Marathon.
This piece of great American cinema challenged my inner competitor, instigating something inside of me that I'd left simmering for years. A challenge. An opportunity to see what I was capable of when committed to the process of achieving a tremendous goal. Discipline. Mental toughness. A slight case of masochism. Vision. These are but a few benefits of what this 16-month journey has given me. Who I am today is only a stronger version of the person who first began this vision quest.
Now, I return to the quest to 26.2, fully understanding this run is much bigger than me. My pain is but a vehicle to shine a million-watt spotlight on two subjects: 1) The power of Detroit’s after-school community and 2) supporting the efforts of the next generation of teachers to realize their career goals. By leveraging my personal/professional platform, there exists an opportunity to build community commitment for our most treasured resources... Our Kids.
I dedicate this run to the family members and friends lost due to COVID-19;
I dedicate this run to victims of police violence... Their names will always be remembered;
I dedicate this run to my ancestors... Their blood gives me the strength, dedication and desire I needed to COMMIT to this process (again); and
I dedicate this to the children and youth of Detroit...
You have been designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed by our Creator, with the seeds of greatness.
The motivational speaker, Eric Thomas, once made the statement,
Success is not for the weak and uncommitted.
The below shows the journey I committed to that fateful day in September 2019.