The AJC Peachtree Road Race is both an Atlanta institution and a huge part of my father’s Fourth of July traditions. Last year, he ran in his 20th Peachtree Road Race. This milestone was such a joyous occasion and was made even more special because this opportunity almost didn’t happen.
Just six days prior to The Race, his world fell apart in the most horrific way. He came home from work to find that his home was destroyed by a catastrophic fire, and his wife of almost 49 years had passed away as a result. In the days that followed, while he was dealing with the shock and working with insurance companies, banks, and social security to replace belongings and make arrangements, all of his friends and family went to work.
Friends and family called and emailed the Atlanta Track Club to make sure that his number, which had been destroyed in the fire, was replaced. Money and gift cards started pouring in to replace clothing and everything that he had lost, but some friends were even more specific with their donations. They made sure that he had new gear to run in. One friend gave him money just to buy a new pair of running shoes. The outpouring of love and support was humbling.
When we were given the phone number to call for the Atlanta Track Club, and my father said his name on the phone, he was surprised at the excited response. “Oh, we’ve been waiting for your call Mr. Lewis! So many people have made sure that your number was replaced. We’ve got you taken care of.”
The day we went to pick up his number was even more celebratory. My father was treated like a VIP and was made a big fuss over when he got his replacement number. For just a few hours that day, we were able to escape the grief and horror that had plagued us since that fateful evening. The relief and happiness on his face meant everything to me, and it was all thanks to our community.
Almost a year later, 11 Alive News chose my father’s story to feature about the people of the Peachtree Road Race. It was an incredible honor, and they did a beautiful job capturing his story. I am so happy and proud that people outside his direct circle of influence get to see why he is my hero and a true rock star!