MADISON, S.D. (KELO) – In life, we run into many obstacles, sometimes they can trip us up, and other times they push us to run farther. For one KELOLAND family, they take that opportunity to not only push themselves, but the people around them.
Jennie Olsen is a full-time nurse, but even when she’s off the clock caring for others is a full-time job.
She spends her summers getting families a step ahead in fitness.
“I thought starting a running program would be a great way not only to inspire kids but their families to get out, get moving and really take care of their bodies,” Olson said.
A passion shared with former colleague Doctor Richard Sample.
“Doctor Sample was a doc I worked with and he was a great friend, he was a great member of the running community, he was always encouraging people to do their best,” Olson said.
But his run came to a halt in August 2013 when he lost his battle with cancer. Through the loss of her friend, Olsen found strength.
“He always wanted to know what people were running, what events they were doing that weekend. It always meant a lot to me how interested he was in the people around him,” Olson said.
In that same summer, she created a running program open to families in the community. She calls the group Sample Strong.
“We were really honored as a family to have Rich’s name on that because we knew that he would be so excited to watch the children,” Barb Sample, widow of Dr. Sample, said.
“Sample Strong just seemed so appropriate at the time, especially our hearts were all very heavy and so with the blessing of the family we picked a great name,” Olson said.
Dr. Sample was known for being a lover of the outdoors.
“Yeah, yeah… that’s a little bit of an understatement I think,” Derick Peters, grandson of Dr. Sample, said.
“He would get the grand-kids when they could start to run; he had them out running, and he would be so excited to see what they’ve all done,” Barb said
“He was always excited to teach and learn himself, and it was… I don’t know, it just really rubbed off on me. He was really hard-working and just really determined to be the best guy he could be,” Peters said.
Actions that push his family and Jennie every single day. What started out as a group of no more than 20 kids meeting two days a week now has more than 100 running around.
“It’s gotten so large and it’s just exciting to watch. Even I come when I’m able to walk,” Barb said
“I like to come here to run because I love getting to interact with people and it helps by going out and running around and it kind of helps me get all my stuff out,” Young Runner Isabel Overby said.
Turning tragedy into triumph is just a sample of Jennie’s strength.
“I think she’s really cool and kind and I want to thank her for starting this program. I love it,” Overby said.
And the memory of Dr. Sample is always running through their heads.
“He’d be so humbled but he’d be so excited. And I can see the sparkles in his eyes… now, just looking down at us; watching the kids because… it was his life and his passion,” Sample said.
Sample strong is currently in its third week for this summer. At the end of the 10 weeks, the kids and families run a 5K to cap to cap it off.