By Karen Lozano
As cliché as it sounds, if you looked up selfless volunteer in the dictionary, you could easily find Don Rowe’s picture. Rowe is the guy you can see all over the Modesto Marathon Finish Line Festival, usually with a hammer or some other tool in hand, quite often hauling or pushing or carrying some integral marathon necessity.
Rowe’s official title is Elementary Director at CrossPoint Community Church, but you’d think he was employed by the ShadowChase Running Club at marathon time.
Row, 59, became involved with the marathon when CrossPoint asked him to be a liaison between the church and the marathon. He helps coordinate the Finish Line Festival preparing detailed maps, coordinating the Kid Zone and arranging the free coffee booth.
“We gave out 800 cups of coffee this year,” he said, which translates into 800 happier visitors.
He also arranged for the shoe drive in which the church collects used or new footwear for local foster and refugee families and the homeless.
And if that’s not enough, Rowe serves as the “receiving person” for all the goody bag items that are delivered to the church. He helps store it until the CrossPoint’s Women’s Ministry team assembles the bags, in which he also plays a heavy hand.
He even “received” the finisher medals for all the races, helping to unload and stack the heavy boxes.
“I honestly enjoy helping,” he says. “I love using the gifts that God has blessed me with to bless others.”
When asked what inspires his volunteerism, Rowe said, “I know this is going to sound like a church answer, but I want people to see Jesus through my life and He was the greatest example of a servant.”
Rowe said his favorite part of volunteering is “meeting and serving with all the different people and personalities.”
And his least favorite part? “When I get irritated by something that really doesn’t matter and I have one of those ‘Betty White’ moments … eat a Snickers Don.”
Rowe, who has lived in Modesto most of his life, began running in high school when he joined the Downey cross country team in 1972 because he didn’t like PE. “I didn’t even know what it was … a coach talked me into joining because they were short of runners.” He has since run many marathons and half marathons, although he has yet to be able to run the Modesto Marathon.
“But my phone says I did 26 miles the three days of set up before the race,” he laughed.
Rowe’s wife Audrey is not a runner, but “she is my biggest encourager.” His brother, Dan, who is 6 years younger, is a runner, however. “We always have this unspoken competition when we are in the same race. We both enjoy half marathons. I like the challenges of the marathon and the discipline and training required. Dan hates them. We used to love the Wharf to Wharf, but now we are trying to do different races in lots of places.”
But as perfect as he seems, when asked how long he has been a ShadowChase member, Rowe said, “Six years … when I remember to renew. Oops!” Perhaps now he will have the time to take care of it.
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.