It Takes A Village

It Takes a Village, or a Town…and

Canastota, N.Y., home to onion fields and boxing champs is now home to the Conrad triplets. You know that saying, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child”? I think that’s true. And while my husband and I are doing our best raising our triplets, we could not come as far as we have without the help of our village, our town, our friends, our family.

I am so proud to call Canastota home, and here’s why:

During International Boxing Hall of Fame weekend, the champs from the Sweet Science — otherwise known as boxing — come home to visit with friends, fans, and remarkable volunteers that help put this small town on the world stage each June. Also happening during the weekend is an event that honors a local kid — Nate Holdridge. It’s called the Nate Race.

Nate was a runner at Canastota High School well before Rob and I called Canastota home. In January 1996 his life was cut short due to an auto accident. His dream was to see his school build a track that the students, and the community, could be proud of.

Well, the track is magnificent (sure beats the gravel track I used to train on back in the day at New York Mills). The race also supports the Canastota Running Club, a college scholarship fund, exercise classes, summer conditioning programs, and St. Lawrence Running Camp.

And now, the Nate Race also supports the efforts of FOUR CONRADS! Yup, four.

What a Difference a Year Makes

The Nate Race was the first 5K I entered once I started running again. Last year I was actually “recruited” for the race while I was out for a jog. True story. A woman stopped her car as I was running in the rain and said, “Have you entered the Nate Race?” Seriously out-out-of-shape and red-faced, I must have looked like I was pained. I groaned out a “no, I don’t think I’m ready.” And she simply said “Yes, you are.” and handed me the registration pamphlet.

Well, I figured, I may as well go for it. And, bonus was, it goes right by my house.

I then recruited my sister MaryAnn and my niece Justyna and, well, let’s just say they smoked me and the competition.

I finished the Nate Race 5K in 31 minutes and change.

This year, after having run a few races, I was looking forward to the race. MaryAnn and Justyna also registered, as did my sister Lesia and her family — Gary, Stephanie, and Gary II. Us girls were running as an open Female Team: Grandma Millie’s Girls.

Next Generation, Maybe?

I hadn’t thought about having the kids run, but there is a fun run associated with the event that takes place on the high school track. Thanks to Auntie Maire, we decided to go for it. Olena was excited and ready to go.

Gretchen was reluctant at first, afraid that she would be last or that she wasn’t fast enough. “Gretchen,” I said, “it’s not about being first or last, it’s about having FUN.”

And some encouragement from Justyna worked wonders.

But now, how was Theodore going to do?

Theodore loves to be outside, and he does love to run, but he often gets tired because his gait is off and, well, he does have to work harder than other kids. On the flip side, I know that boy can run! So we have to keep a very watchful eye when he’s in the yard.

But then I thought, what the heck. Let’s go for it. After all, I don’t know if he’d like it or not until we try. So, we tried.

I even emailed the event organizers to let them know that we would be coming, including some information on Theodore’s special needs and how he may or may not handle the event well. And that either way I would be running with him.

They welcomed us with open arms.

I just love this community!

First the 5K

It was wet, and rainy, but humid. But we did excellent! I finished in 27:22! And Grandma Millie’s team secured a second place finish, earning us all medals. I was so proud of my team, my sisters and my nieces — they rock.

Then the fun run began. We planned it so Rob would bring the kids to the track in the van so if it was too much to handle, Theo could watch from the comfort of his car seat.

Certainly some kids who had run the race before were all lined up and ready to go. My nephew Alex selected a spot for himself by the front. We maneuvered behind the front lines toward the back. MaryAnn with Gretchen. Justyna with Olena. Me and Theo in the back.

I was nervous. He was a bit agitated by the crowd, but not too bothered. He was mostly looking and the fans that had gathered. I thought for sure he was going to want to go to the car.

But boy was I wrong. He didn’t need to!

And GO!


GRETCHEN makes her way down the track.

While the girls took off with their partners. Theo and I walked along the track as he flipped his toy, and watched the crowd watching him.He went a few yards before throwing his hands up to be carried…and that was ok. We were going to finish together and that’s all that matters.

I periodically put him down and encouraged him to run and he did the best he could before getting too tired, looking for mom to carry him.

Amid all this I was busy cheering my girls on as well. They all looked first so serious, then so happy, then a bit tired.


Team Olena and Justyna

But the point is — they finished. They all crossed the finish line by themselves. Our first race! In the RAIN! And it was beautiful. I couldn’t be happier for them, for achieving this milestone. THEY did it.And although Theodore wasn’t phased much by his finishers ribbon and ZEMS reward coupon, this mama was in tears. Tears of joy for all that we have accomplished just to get to this point alone. And for the effort put forth on this rainy day in Canastota.

I know we had the cheers of the crowd behind us. I know my sisters, my brother-in-law, and my nieces and nephews encouraged us on.

I also think that Nate was looking out for us on this special day. Perhaps someday my triplets can join the ranks of Canastota’s team, and show the world what they are made of.


Go Theo!


2 thoughts on “It Takes A Village

  1. I just found your blog. I’m a Stota ex-pat. 🙂 I graduated in 1996 and Nate was a friend of mine. Today is the anniversary of his death and I was surfing around the Internet reading stories about him and his legacy. Thanks for writing 🙂

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