Manning the Marathon Gatorade and Water Stations

Houston Marathon Donna

The first time I attended the Houston Marathon was five years ago.  I was and still am the marathon’s Charity Administrator for PCHAS, one of the marathon’s Preferred Charities. At the time, I didn’t know very much about the race; I had not met the many supporters who run for PCHAS and raise money.

After attending the first marathon in support of our runners, I was hooked. The commitment a runner must have to complete a 26-mile marathon is simply incredible! Those who run nearly 13.1 miles in the half-marathon are also amazing.

It is exciting to see the camaraderie between these marathoners, their passion for PCHAS and of course their commitment and generosity. Many of them donate to PCHAS beyond their marathon-related contributions. I am not a runner, so I found another way to be involved.

That first year I travelled to Houston to cheer on the team. We were part of what’s called a Hoopla Station.  I manned our Hoopla Station with other volunteers, holding signs and cheering on the runners.  For a couple of years, that was my role. Two of those years we worked in the pouring rain, and it was VERY cold!  But if our runners could endure this, the least I could do was to be there to support them.

“We can’t all be heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”
– Will Rogers


In 2014, PCHAS’ role as a preferred charity changed. Now we host a refuelling station (serving Gatorade and water to the runners on the side lines.) Jana Hobbs, PCHAS’ Senior Development Officer, her husband, J.R. Hobbs, Peter Crouch, PCHAS’ Vice President for Development, and I were the PCHAS staff members who manned our station. We were required to be at our station at 5:30 am to help set up. It was still dark when we arrived and began filling the cups in the darkness.

Passing out Gatorade to runners is very rewarding, and as it turned out, a lot of fun.  The runners really appreciate the volunteers and take time to let us know it.

It requires a lot of teamwork to set up the tables, stack the cups, pour the Gatorade and pass out the drinks. There was a lot of laughter as we refined our techniques to hand off the Gatorade with the least amount of spillage!

In 2015, we again hosted a refuelling station.  This time, we had Sarah Cleary, our new Houston Development Officer, her husband, Darnell Cleary, Mary Ann Rector, our Volunteer Coordinator, Margaret Barry our Director of Communications, Peter Crouch our VP of Development, and his son Taylor. Taylor stepped into a much-needed role of Team Captain and led our group of volunteers in a pre-race warm-up cheer.  His enthusiasm set the tone for the rest of the morning.

This year, we raised more than $40,000. And the money is still coming in!