By Karen Lozano
Jerry Nance is one of those guys who would give you the shirt off his back. Quite literally, he would willingly give it up without a second thought if he thought you needed it. I know firsthand of this generosity.
Now I don’t normally write these volunteer stories in the first person, but Jerry’s folksy mannerisms somehow call for it. I attended a recent ShadowChase Running Club meeting and there was Jerry, wearing the most amazing tie-dyed SF Giants T-shirt. I casually mention that the shirt would be perfect for me to wear to school the next day as it was “Tie-Dye Day” and my school mascot just happens to be the Giants. Well lo and behold, it’s time to leave for the evening and Jerry’s wife Laura whispers in my ear, “Do you really want to borrow Jerry’s shirt?”
“Huh?” I ask.
“Do you really want to borrow his shirt? He’ll take it off in the truck and I’ll bring it in for you.”
And that’s how I came about having the most perfect thing to wear to school the next day, and why Jerry was sitting half-naked in his truck making up stories in case he and Laura were pulled over on the way home.
But most of us know Jerry as the guy who’s standing at the Gomes Road aid station on Saturday mornings, offering cold beverages and snacks to runners in the marathon training group, along with a smile and healthy dose of encouragement.
“I enjoy all of the camaraderie with the people in the running club,” says Jerry. “Runners are such a great group of people in general! The reason I volunteer is to support my wife and all of the great people in the running club and Teens Run Modesto.”
On Tuesdays, Jerry and his dog Duffy can be found in the Roseburg Square parking lot.
“I patrol the parking lot at the Virginia Corridor for the ShadowChase training team,” he says. “I also volunteer at other races like the Halloween Fun Run and Spirit of Giving. The last two years I have volunteered on both Friday and race day for the Modesto Marathon, even taking on the job of having ice, cold water, and cold sodas for the runners out on the course.”
Seems like Jerry steps up wherever he’s needed, such as his Virginia Corridor duties. When ShadowChase first started running from that area, several cars were broken into and runners lost gym bags, running watches and phones among other items. Jerry just sort of created the volunteer post, much to the relief of many runners.
“I know that he does truly enjoy being out there on Saturday mornings, seeing all the adults and teens come through, and providing what they need to accomplish their goal,” says his wife. “Tuesday nights when it’s dark and cold and he could be at home, he and Duffy patrol the parking lot so we can run with peace of mind that our cars will be intact when we return. It’s actions like that, which may not seem like big deal to those outside of the running/walking community, that have a huge impact on those of us who benefit from his generosity.”
Volunteering is nothing new to him, though. Jerry has also volunteered hundreds of hours as a reserve police officer, which included arresting one drunken driver twice in one night!
Jerry has been a member of the ShadowChase for about four years, even though he is not a runner. “I really joined because Laura signed me up after she joined,” he admits. “That’s when I started volunteering.
“But I am a walker, and admire those that do run,” he says.
“I’ve been walking most of my life, ha ha, but took it up as an activity when Laura started running with ShadowChase. I started walking in 5K races beginning in 2013, with a few months off for two open heart surgeries. I got interested in walking because of Laura … she found the Giant Race series, and I was willing to walk for San Francisco Giants bling as a lifelong SF fan!
“My favorite and only distance is the 5K. I have walked in nine of the Giant Race series 5k’s, as well as the Modesto Memorial Classic. My most recent 5k was the Peace Officer Memorial Run in September.”
Jerry is enjoying his retirement, after working 37 years for NuCal Foods — previously known as Rebecca Farms and CalEgg — a fresh egg company for Northern California. He was a truck driver, warehouse manager, and finally transportation manager overseeing the delivery of hundreds of thousands of eggs seven days a week to Northern California grocery stores. Prior to that he served in the Navy and is a Vietnam vet.
Besides the Giants, Jerry is a fan of gardening and working outside. “Right now, my main goal is to stay healthy and just enjoy a good life,” he adds.
If you know a ShadowChase Running Club volunteer you would like to see in the spotlight, please contact Karen Lozano at firstname.lastname@example.org.