Courtesy of Boys & Girls Club
WESTFIELD – On January 1, 2014, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield is hosting its sixth annual “Gordy’s First Race” in honor of Gordon F. Bates who, at the Club, was known as “the Organizer, the Race Director and the Go-to guy in the Orange Hat.”
The race is sponsored by B&E Tool.
It all started in 1994 when a group of runners from the Empire One Running Club approached the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield with the idea of a half marathon fundraiser. One of those runners was Gordon Bates. The proposal was to offer runners the opportunity to tune up for the Boston Marathon.
Over the course of the next 15 years, the race grew from some 100 runners to close to 500. This was to be a collaborative effort benefiting both the Empire One Running Club and the Boys & Girls Club. Bates was one of the original group members to organize and take charge of the event on race day.
Eleven years later, Bates was informed by the Empire Running Club that they could no longer support the event with the large amount of volunteers required to coordinate and direct a successful half marathon. Obviously, Bates did not agree with their decision.
In 2004, he was able to pull a group of people together to help out for another race. That year, he led the committee to successfully raise more than $7,000 for the Boys & Girls Club.
Not only did he ensure the safety of the runners with radio volunteers, water stops and directions, Bates made sure that the bag piper was on Hillside Road to greet the runners after that grueling hill.
“Gordon was proof that a core group of people with a mission can do anything!” said Lerryn Godden, Finance Director at the Boys & Girls Club.
“Bates could do it all. He never once lost his patience. It didn’t matter if it was waiting an extra two hours for Jane Goodman to cross the finish line or being approached in the Club lobby by a man clothed in only a towel and covered with soap because we ran out of hot water in the showers. Thanks to Gordon, the Half Marathon committee, and of course our major sponsor Oleksak Lumber, the Club has been the beneficiary of over $100,000 in net proceeds over the past 20 years.”
In September 2008, Bates passed away in Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston. That year, on behalf of the club, he was inducted into the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield’s Hall of Fame.
“He was sorely missed at that year’s race and five years later, today, we still miss him.”
So on the first day of 2014 in his memory, the sixth annual “Gordy’s First Race” at the Boys & Girls Club will be held. The application and online registration is available online at www.bgcwestfield.org
Race day registration is available at the Boys & Girls Club from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Post-race food and refreshments, including hot chocolate, are free to all participants of 10K and 5K at the Boys & Girls Club. The Boys & Girls Club will also be giving out to the runners their choice of an Orange Beanie Cap or a Hot Chocolate Mug. All results from the race are provided by GreystoneRacing.net. For questions or additional information please send an email to [email protected]
If you would like more information about programs at the Boys & Girls Club to get your child involved, or if you would like to volunteer, please contact Kellie Brown, director of operations at 413-562-2301 or visit our website at www.bgcwestfield.org.