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YMCA of Central Stark County

To put Christian Principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.


As a parent, I have a job as a role model to my children, and by extension, to other young people. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

This statement rings true to me, in my own life as well as the lives of friends and family that I am honored to be part of.  Parenting definitely is a “do as I do” experience and with all hope our children learn the good.  Living a healthier lifestyle becomes a daily routine and is easier to adapt to if it is modeled at home.  This year the North Canton YMCA celebrated their 40th anniversary of the 4th of July race. The memories and healthier lifestyles that have been enhanced because of this race are many.

Dick Rutledge racingIt was in the summer of 1982 my asthma doctor suggested I start running to strengthen my heart and lungs. A few weeks later I saw some race results for a race in Alliance which intrigued me, the idea of competing in a road race was appealing. That very next week the Minerva YMCA, which had just opened, announced a 5k road race on October 10, 1982. There it was in front of me, destiny calling, I had only 6 weeks to get ready and on August 26, 1982 I took my first run.

I fell in love with the sport and now I'm looking forward to August 26th to celebrate my 35th year as a runner; 37,000 miles and 400 road races under my belt with no plan on stopping. Two years later, in 1984, I ran my first July 4th North Canton race when it was a 10k. I remember it distinctly because we ran past a golf course and the funny looks we received from the golfers.  Due to injury I have missed a couple of races, but have run at least 30 plus times. This is one of my favorite races, one I look forward to every year. Thanks to the Y for holding the race almost 35 years ago and changing my life.

As a child, my entire family attended the Fourth of July Race every year to help cheer on our dad, Dick Rutledge.  It was an experience that we all looked forward to –  not only to yell words of encouragement as he ran past us, but because we had a blast spending time with the other runners’ families we’d come to know over the years. The runners’ community is very unique and small – and getting to spend time with the other children was always such fun, especially at the Fourth of July Race. We would spend the morning and afternoon swimming, playing and celebrating as our moms and/or dads were presented their medals.  The North Canton Fourth of July Race is such a fun and exciting childhood memory that I know my brother and I have not forgotten and I’m sure many others haven’t forgotten either.

Dick Rutledge not only modeled a healthy lifestyle for his children, he also coaches Track and Cross Country for the Minerva Middle and High School.  As a result of this his daughter Morgen teaches Cycling classes at the Minerva YMCA where her energy is unrivaled. While his son Evan is continuing the legacy and is an avid runner.

Thank you for modelling a healthy lifestyle for your children and by extension others.  Sign up for a race today and start your journey of healthy living for yourself and those in your sphere of influence!