What Makes Ronnie Roll: 5Ks And “Catfish Conferences”

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

We had come off of a weekend that was another reminder of what can only be described as the awesomeness of Athens, this time spotlighted by the Pink Lady Walk/5K held in Big Spring Park. The mayor was there in attendance; I ran/walked it and did so in fairly decent time, and the turnout was the best one ever. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that close to 100 people were there. As most of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and for a decade, the Pink Lady Walk (now also a 5K) has been a visible part of that venture. We talked about how cancer survivor Sharon Carter started “walking the walk” and sponsoring Pink Lady when just a handful of people would gather at the old location of Jimmy Gill Park. Over the years it has grown until it is a timed race, and this year was run by Bald Eagle. “Look at how it’s grown, and how everyone pulled together,” said Mayor Ronnie with a joyful smile. The Pink Patrol car donated by Brad Stovall was “on duty” with lights flashing and helping to direct traffic.

What made this year’s Pink Lady so special were the numbers of people who had never done a 5K before and weren’t sure they could do it. To see the looks of triumph on their faces as they pushed through to the finish line was unforgettable. Then, to see the honor bestowed upon those who are in a current battle with cancer or had beaten it back was heartening. One woman had beaten it back five times, beginning in 1999.

Another feature of this year’s Pink Lady was having a DJ, and a spontaneous “street dance” broke out under the pavilion. There is talk of perhaps having a city-wide dance in the park for next year’s
“Lady,” and I hope that works out. It was a great day, and October kicks off the Relay For Life season in Athens. Our town is well known in Alabama for being fiercely committed to crushing cancer.

We moved on to the topic of the SE Conference of the League of Municipalities’ “Catfish Conferences,” with a humorous reference to a city in TX that had to pass an ordinance that all catfish served in the town restaurants was “genuine cowhide catfish,” and not what is known as “Asian catfish,” or swai. “Catfish must be catfish,” he chuckled.

Mayor Ronnie will be chair of the 14 State League of Municipalities organization that is active in the Southeast and attending that conference. While it targets small and mid-size towns, what he told me is that “No matter the size of the town, everyone is facing the same problems, among them homelessness, infrastructure, and public safety.” There will also be one conference that is just Alabama cities and towns that will be held in Montgomery. He was looking forward to both and noted that people who attend “don’t want to talk and jaw-jack, we want to solve problems.” Clearly there were things to celebrate and needs about which to pray, so we did, and then it was time for Ronnie to roll.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner