Women’s Prayer Run blesses Community
Gila River Indian News
For two days, Oct. 19 and 20, women from around the state gathered to trek across the Gila River Indian Community for the Sixth Annual Women’s Prayer Run. The run started in 2014 by Rene Jackson, District 5, for an all-women run that begins at the confluence of the Salt and Gila River in District 7 and ends in District 1 Blackwater totaling 65 miles.
Rene Jackson stated, “The purpose of the run is to strengthen women’s unity, honor and recognize the women’s burden they carry in their families and Community. And offer a place for women to come together and talk about these things.” Jackson understands running as a form of healing and prayer. Throughout the weekend, discussion about the land is shared for all to respect and appreciate in our Community.
One goal is to build a Community among the women who run, so they plan to make the run safe, fun, and accessible to all ages. The run is a relay-style where two runners are placed from a quarter-mile to one mile apart. Pairs are matched at random, most of whom have never met one another so they can get to know someone new.
Early Sunday morning Pearl Gonnie (Sells, Ariz.) and Sunny Dae Parker (District 7) were stationed near Aji and shared they were enjoying the run. Both never met before the run. This year was also the first time for both women but said, “the experience exceeded their expectations.” They also shared that what’s most memorable is “the people, stories, family atmosphere, and prayers.”
One of the organizers Pamela Thompson, from District 4 shared, “Every year I look forward to the stories we share because once it’s out, it no longer stays inside.” With healing being the purpose of this year’s run, the organizers encouraged healthy conversations throughout the run. Whether they were waiting for a van, riding in a van, or waiting to run, those conversations are productive. And they will help each person in their journey towards healing.
For many, this was their first time running a 65-mile endeavor. Not everyone was an experienced runner. There were no expectations on the arrival time on Sunday. And that was fine with everyone because, as Thompson said, “In the end, it’s about the prayer, not the pace.”
By Sunday, over 80 women (toddlers to elder) were paired to cover the second portion of the run from Aji, ending Sunday afternoon at the District 1 Service Center.