Eight years ago, at the age of 11, Kayla Parlette was known as one of the chunky kids at Columbus Grove Elementary School.
Confidence. She had little.
Sweet snacks. She had plenty.
She watched with frustration as classmates could accomplish things that she could only dream about.
“During gym class, we had to run a mile every year. I would get half way around one lap and be short of breath. I would walk the rest of the mile just watching the others finish already. It hurt inside,” Parlette said.
Then one day she took home a piece of paper that changed her life. Now she’s hoping to do the same for others.
“I was sitting in my sixth-grade science class when the Columbus Grove junior high cross-country coach walked in with fliers. I raised my hand and received one. I went home very excited telling everyone I will be joining cross-country next year,” Parlette said.
Her mother, Christine Parlette, admired her daughter’s spunk, but wanted to make sure Kayla Parlette really understood what she was considering. There were many conversations about commitment and how running can take a lot out of a person.
“I told my mom that cross-country is going to change my life completely and I was right,” Kayla Parlette said. “After training with my brother [Danny Phalen] over the summer, I was ready for my first practice. I proved to everyone and myself that I was able to run on this team. Our coach, Michael Brodwolf, taught us how to run and eat right. I built some character.”
Along the way, she also inspired her aunt, Shannon Mellano.
“I went to one of Kayla’s meets and it was so exciting,” Mellano said. “The next thing you know, at age 40, I’m training for a 5K.”
That was four years ago. The two of them have since run three half marathons, an event which encompass 13.1 miles. The first one was two years ago in December at Cedar Point.
“It was the Santa Run and we ran in ankle deep snow with cold winds coming off the lake. We made sure the next two half marathons were in Florida,” Mellano said with a laugh.
Kayla Parlette, now 19, and Mellano, 44, can be seen running around Putnam County. They’re training for the New York Marathon on Nov. 1 and will run as many as 17 miles in a single day.
That’s where Parlette is asking for help.
“I chose to run for a charity: Team for Kids. I chose this charity because it gives other obese children a chance to get healthy and build character at young ages. My goal is to raise $2,620 by Oct. 1. It’s a great cause,” said Parlette, who is a preschool co-teacher at Lima Allen Council on Community Affairs Head Start in Lima.
To donate, make checks payable to NYRR Team for Kids and put “Kayla Parlette” in the memo. Mail it to: NYRR Team for Kids, 156 W. 56th St., 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10019.
You can follow Parlette’s journey on her Facebook page: Run with Kayla & TeamForKids for 2015 NYC Marathon.
ROSES AND THORNS: Someone is beating a drum in the rose garden.
Rose: To David Grimm, general manager of the Allen County Fair. He played the drums as part of The Ohio State University Alumni Band that performed before Saturday’s game.
Rose: Look Monday night for No. 68, Michael Person, of the Atlanta Falcons when they play the Philadelphia Eagles in a 7 p.m. game on ESPN. Person is the husband of Kelly Schepp, a 2004 graduate of Bath High School and the daughter of Mike and Mary Lou Schepp. He’ll be starting at center for the Falcons. The two met when he played for the San Francisco 49ers. He’s starting his seventh year in the NFL, also playing for the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams.
Rose: Little Caesars, of Lima, will be offering pizza Monday and Tuesday to 450 people at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen and Christian Corner Community Center.
Rose: To Margaret Werking, of Lima, who will celebrate her 100th birthday Sept. 23.
Rose: Ohio Northern University ranked No. 2 in the U.S. News & World Report Best College guidebook among 96 comparable institutions in 12 states.
Thorn: To Spencer Stevens, 24, of Harrod, who was arrested after driving the wrong way on U.S. Route 33 near Bellefontaine. He faces multiple charges, including operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Thorn: The Labor Day parade in Lima was temporarily halted by a slow-moving train, which decided to stop during the parade.
PARTING SHOT: Always remember: one good turn gets most of the blankets.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.