On November 1st the McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources and Community Action will hold its first annual Harvest Walk 5K and after party to take place at the Russellville Depot in downtown Russellville. The McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources and Community Action started about five years ago. Inspiration for the organization came from my time spent working with the West Kentucky African American Heritage and Genealogy Center in Russellville, Kentucky. Director Michael Morrow believed in the importance of bringing generations together to learn more about their local histories and to build stronger futures for everyone.
The McElroy House Organization strives to value our landscape and our cultural resources, exploring how the past informs the present, and how, by building bridges across generations and cultures, we can work toward a stronger and more inclusive future for Pope and Yell Counties. We believe that stories of who we are and where we came from matter. Knowing these stories can help us become a more connected, loving community. To this end, we also work to build connections between urban and rural divides.
Marie Williams of Dover has been instrumental in the creation of the McElroy House organization. To help support our work she has planned our first annual Harvest Run/Walk. She is a local runner in the community and has created this event for both runners and non runners alike. The goal of the walk is to bring everyone together. Since much of McElroy House work focuses on bringing people together across generations, we have been encouraging people to enter the walk as a family or group and to share stories. I’d like to highlight two families and their stories.
Mary Hearne and her sister Judy are sisters. They started doing 5ks together about three years ago after Mary started training with the Russellville Chapter of Women Can Run. Recently both women have been facing health issues including cancer and arthritis. But the sisters are still walking together and recently completed the Susan G. Komen run in Little Rock. Next they’ll be taking part in the Harvest Walk/Run.
We also have members of the McElroy family participating in the walk as a family. Joanna McElroy Corder, a cancer survivor, is entering the walk with her children and grandchildren who will be coming from Conway to take part. When asked why she is entering the walk/run she notes that she is “proud to be a McElroy,” mentioning her late father R.L. (Bee) McElroy. She recalled visiting her paternal grandmother in Dardanelle and sharing meals together as a family: “pinto beans, cornbread and fried “taters.”” She also mentioned how the cousins would get together on Saturdays to see a movie at the Joy Theatre in downtown Dardanelle. “We would all get popcorn, coke, and a big dill pickle, and have money left over to go buy candy on the walk back to Momma Mac’s,” she writes. Though much has changed over the decades, the cousins still make it a point to get together on a regular basis and to share stories with grandchildren.
The first annual Harvest Walk/Run will take place November 1st beginning at the Russellville Depot. There is no need to be a runner to take part! Everyone is welcome, including babies and children. When you sign up please take a few minutes to share your story with us. We’d love to hear about you! Visit www.mcelroyharvestrun.com to find the from. While you are there you can also find out information about sponsorship opportunities. Preregistration ends this coming Wednesday, November 15th.
In the next column check back to lean all about our after party which will feature local booths from a a variety of organizations and our second annual pie sale featuring local pie makers and their stories. For more information on the walk, contact Marie Williams at 479-692-1511. Thanks so much for reading!