A2A volunteers look back at a decade of community history

Since 2010, the Arbuckles to Ardmore Race for Mercy has been a staple for the Ardmore community. In its 10th and final year, the marathon is likely to bring the total amount of money raised to over $1 million. None of this work would have been possible without the dedication of hundreds of volunteers who helped along the way.

Year after year people donated their time in a wide range of weather conditions. Neither heat, nor cold, nor drizzle, nor sun stopped volunteers from assisting the racers or helping organize the race itself. While hundreds have volunteered their time over the years, here are a few stories from some of the volunteers who made this race the event it is today.

Bob Bates   

“I work at the finish line handing out the post race refreshments. We go all over Ardmore and gather up Gatorade, water and bananas. I’ve been working this for the last ten years with my wife (Mita Bates) and Marty and Janee Auten. It’s a fun place to be — everyone has finished their race and they’re ready for some food and to relax.”

“I just think there’s been more public awareness and more community awareness over the years. I know that the first year people heard about it, but now that we’ve raised so much money it’s been a marvelous thing. Every year we announce what we’ve done, and this year we should end up going over a million dollars.”

Jacque Stedman   

“At the finish line we have a medical tent, and we have a few medical supplies. Every once in a great while we’ve had to start IVs but that doesn’t happen very often. Usually it’s blisters, nagging injuries and cramps, things like that. We also have eight stations along the course. We’ve had to send an ambulance out a couple times, and we’ve had a few broken bones, but nothing like that in the past several years.”

“People who run marathons they may look like they are hurting really bad, they don’t want to be picked up. They want to go ahead and finish.”

Shannon Steele   

“For about the last three years, I’ve been on the core team. I’ve kind of been Andre (Moore’s) assistant. We’ve been the go-to for things like sponsorships, registration, all of the online things and making sure the t-shirts were ordered — all of the ins and outs of everything.”

“It’s bitter sweet with this being the last race. I know everyone is tired and I know that they’re ready to be finished, but it’s still kind of sad. It’s been going on for so long and everyone has been so committed for so long that there’s going to be a hole there. Hopefully, the community will step up and fill that hole with something. I don’t see this as the end of this type of event, but this group needs a break.”

Dillon Payne   

“My primary job has always been the stadium setup — so anything in regards to how the runners approach the stadium or anything inside the stadium. Before we could delegate and get other people working in different areas we had to do a lot of that too, but it didn’t matter. My mother’s a cancer survivor and one of my best friends is a cancer survivor, so it’s always had a tremendous amount of personal value.”

“It’s given the opportunity for lots of local people to participate and give back. I was talking to Andre (Moore) a few minutes ago, and I told him it’s sobering to think that it’s going away. But for those of us who’ve been here all ten years, it’s tough. It’s gotten easier, but for some of us the entire week leading up to it is solid work. It was a job at first but then it kind of became a calling and now it’s history for this community. It may not be something that we do anymore, but I think its legacy will be around for years to come. I’m fortunate and grateful and blessed to say that I was a part of it.”