While members of the NYC chapter of Black Men Run and Black Girls Run will be racing the Brooklyn Half on Saturday, a support group of their peers will be cheering from their volunteer station at mile 9, where they’ll be handing out fluids to all the runners on Ocean Parkway in Midwood.
For several of the volunteers, it’s their first event with their teams. “Some members are not ready to do the distance, so they’re participating by volunteering,” says BMR member Kovon Flowers, who’ll be running the Brooklyn Half. “Everyone is really excited to represent BMR as well as participate in the Brooklyn Half. It’s a new experience. Some have never volunteered in any running group, and I know they’re looking forward to it.”
Not all of the volunteers are novices. BGR member Sherene McIntyre was hoping to run the Brooklyn Half, but was unable to take part due to injury. She jumped at the opportunity to volunteer. “Having been in races where I’m about to hit a wall, the voice of a volunteer is just so encouraging to me,” she says. “It’s the least I can do to hopefully help someone with their accomplishment.”
Most of the BMR and BGR volunteers are Brooklynites, and they’re thrilled to help make a difference at a race in their borough.
“When you’re from Brooklyn, everyone wants to be involved some way somehow,” said Flowers. “Anything with Brooklyn on it is a big deal, and you’ll get people to represent.”
For McIntyre, helping others is immensely gratifying. “What you gain from the experience of volunteering is unspeakable,” she says.
This may be the initial volunteer effort for some of the teams’ members, but Flowers says it won’t be their last. “You’ll be seeing more of us,” he says.