When Susan Dawes feels herself wanting to give up on a long run, her father’s words echo in her ears.
“I think about him a lot when I want to stop before the finish and I hear him go, ‘Come on, come on, don’t quit now, you can do this,’” she said.
He was, after all, her biggest cheerleader — taking her to the track after he got home from a long day of work, never missing a single mile-run she competed in during her high school career and, most importantly, offering unwavering support even when her own confidence began to shake.
Floyd Henry Seibert taught his daughter how to run — but he also taught her how to live along the way.
“Dads have an amazing influence over their daughters and I didn’t really realize that until after my dad was gone,” she said.
Dawes may have lost her father nearly 20 years ago, but she’ll spend this Father’s Day weekend honoring his legacy and inspiring other father-daughter duos to lace up their racing shoes.
She is hosting the Dad and Daughter 5K Saturday at the Liberty Community Center, 1600 S. Withers Road, and she plans to make it an annual event.
Her hope is that it will join dads and daughters of all ages together for a fun-filled morning of exercise, music, food and activities.
“I am trying to make this a fun one because we want all ages. We want little babies in strollers and kids in wagons and we want daughters to walk and run in honor of their dads,” Dawes said.
The mom of three began running herself in junior high school while growing up in Iowa. She wanted to be a track star like her two older brothers, so her father began taking her to the track after he’d get off work at night.
After she was disappointed with making the seventh-grade B squad in track, her father took her to see a high school girls track meet to watch the long-distance runners. Dawes was inspired and decided she’d like to do long-distance running herself.
“I fell in love with it,” she said.
Her father never missed a single mile-run event she had in high school, although it often took some juggling with his work schedule.
“He would always stand at the beginning of the race and then he would run down at the other end of the track or tell me to kick it at the end,” she said.
But the biggest life lesson he taught her came her junior year when she wanted to quit the team in frustration because another runner was better than she was.
“He said you can’t always run and be first in life and then he looked at me and it was the way he said it. He said there’s always going to be another race to run,” she said.
Dawes, who has also written a book detailing her father’s influence titled “Run the Race: A Father’s Legacy of Life Lessons,” carried those words with her throughout her life — the highs and the lows — and continues to embrace that message to this day.
She hopes the upcoming 5K will help other father-daughter duos create their own memories together — but her own father will never be far from her mind.
His influence is sprinkled throughout the event, whether it’s the music planned for the race or the cheerleaders who will be stationed near the finish line to help participates “kick it” at the end.
“It will probably be a really emotional day for me but I will be thankful for all that sign up and come out,” she said. “It will be a fun day.”
What: The Dad and Daughter 5K
When: 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Liberty Community Center, 1600 S. Withers Road
Why: To honor fathers and father figures and raise money for Hillcrest Transitional Housing and homeless teen programs in Liberty.
Registration: To register, search for “Dad and Daughter 5K” at www.active.com. The fee is $25. People can register online until 3 p.m. Thursday or in person Saturday.