By Kim Hilsenbeck
Jennifer Crosby of Kyle said her health, and her family’s, needed an overhaul.
“We were at the doctor every month,” she said recently. “We needed to do something active.”
The problems of not being active manifested themselves into issues such as weight gain, fatigue, allergies and other general maladies.
Crosby also had two parents with health problems. Her mother has diabetes; her father passed away several years ago from circulatory problems.
“We’ve got diabetes and cholesterol on both sides of our families,” she said. “If I do not stay active, who knows if I will end up like my parents.”
So Crosby and her husband committed to training for and running a 5K every month.
“We needed to keep ourselves accountable for being active,” she said.
After she had about three years of 5Ks under her belt, she joined the PTA at Negley Elementary where her son, Jacob was then in kindergarten; the Crosby family lives in Plum Creek.
Her goal of joining PTA was to help with the school’s annual 5K run.
“I came ready to talk about the planning,” she said. “But they put me charge.”
Crosby said the event was a blast.
She and her husband would do about one 5K a month. She took her son in a stroller when he was little.
“Eventually, I let him walk the last half mile, then the last three-quarters of a mile,” she said. “He did his first 5K at age 5 – and he walked the whole thing.”
Even after all these years of running, Crosby said, “I kept waiting for him to say, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ But he’s got great pace and endurance.”
He runs a 9 to a 9.5 minute mile, she said.
Crosby formed the Family Fitness Club – an informal group that would help families train for Negley’s 5K. That was in 2012.
“We get together every Wednesday evening,” she said.
The club has two-year-olds up to grandmas. While Crosby said they used to take breaks in the summer, lately she’s hearing from people that they don’t want to go on hiatus this year.
Crosby said while the majority of Fitness Club families live in Plum Creek, it’s really open to anyone who wants to get started with a regular program.
At the same time all this was happening, Crosby said she saw things come home from school about buying chocolate and cookie dough to raise money.
“I don’t want to buy that stuff,” she said. “I’d rather someone walk a 3K or 5K.”
Indeed, several Hays CISD schools now use fun runs as their primary fundraising activity for the year.
Not long after she helped with the Negley event, Crosby said Plum Creek resident Brandi Otto was looking for help with Front Porch Days 5K, an annual community celebration and 5K run.
One thing led to another and Crosby was suddenly the 5K expert. People started asking her to help with their 5K fundraisers. She eventually decided to use her knowledge and experience to help others raise money by organizing 5K runs for groups.
“But it needed a name attached to it and it had to be safe and family friendly,” Crosby said.
For the Love of Go was inspired by her family’s commitment to keep going and stay active.
“We’re not elite athletes,” she said. “We were just people trying to get started.”
Another important aspect of the organization was to keep prices low enough to attract families to participate. Crosby wrote a grant to get money for things such as traffic cones and signage.
“That could cut the entry fee from $25 a person to $10-$15 a person,” she said.
All while Crosby was forming her ideas and applying for her 501(c)(3) status, she was working full-time for the Texas Department of Transportation. She worked there for 12 years in different divisions.
But she lost her job last fall. Three days later, she got the letter that her nonprofit status came through. Not long after that, Hays Hills Baptist Church hired Crosby as its maintenance director, a position she holds today.
For the Love of Go is really a passion for Crosby as opposed to a second paycheck. She said the by-laws of the nonprofit allow the race director to earn about $100 per race.
“I put in about 60 hours of preparation time before each race,” she said.
Crosby truly does the 5K as a labor of love. She wants to see people commit to getting healthy – or at the very least, getting up and moving.
“Just get off the couch – that’s our tagline,” she said.