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This time every year I reflect on our business. We have our all-staff meeting in which we invite store employees, events employees, digital employees, fun run leaders, ambassadors, and vendor partners to what we call the “State of Pacers”. It's 90 mins where we can address the people who make our business what it is. We reflect on the past, we talk about our current state, and we look toward the future. We laugh, we cry, we celebrate. Yeah, mostly we celebrate.

Our goal will never change. We want to help as many people as possible through running. We are clear in our vision - but what is also clear every year when we address the group, it’s our people who work for us and the people we impact that matter the most.

One person I had heard about, but not met in person is our ambassador Kayla. She is from Anacostia and wanted to get into running and triathlon training. When I talked to her dad last night, he said “we don’t see many people training for triathlons in our area”. That was until last fall when he noticed a Pacers Running group on the track at Banneker park one day when he was out on a walk. He approached the group and asked if his 14-year-old daughter, Kayla could join the group. “A dad will do anything for his daughter, and this is what she wanted to do,” he said to me. After that exchange, Kayla’s parents started to bring her to both the track and Navy Yard store each week to run with the Pacers group.

On October 2nd of last year, Kayla completed the Karen Stevens Memorial Kids Triathlon. It was her first-ever race.

I told her story in front of 100 people last night. It brought me to tears - Kayla’s dad was also moved. “I’m speechless” he texted after the event “Thank you for all the support for my daughter”.

No, thank you Mr. Edwards for your actions and love for your daughter. You inspire us all.