Running was a lifeline for Redbud Classic incoming executive director Sara Sweet
Running helped Sara Sweet cope with her grief.
Sweet, the incoming executive director of the Redbud Classic, lost her father in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Her father, 42-year-old Steve Williams, was a claims representative for the Social Security Administration and one of 168 people killed in the blast. She was just 22 at the time.
A year after the bombing, Sweet had finished college and gotten a job when she started running primarily to stay fit. She discovered it also helped with the grief.
“When you are dealing with grief, maybe anything that really weighs heavily on your heart and mind, it can consume your thoughts,” Sweet said.
“While I was running, I would find that it was just much easier for me to let go of the anger. It just kind of helps me manage when I am flooded with negative emotions.”
In her new job, Sweet will be responsible for organizing Oklahoma City’s oldest running event, the Redbud Classic. The 37th annual running, walking and bicycling event will be Saturday and Sunday in Nichols Hills.
Sweet will take over for executive director Patty Anthony following this year’s race. It is a job for which she seems well-suited. Not only is she a runner, but the 46-year-old Sweet was the financial manager of her husband's Oklahoma City law firm for more than a decade and has been active in the civic community.
Every year the Redbud Classic raises money for a non-profit organization. This year’s recipient is Teach for America, which recruits individuals who will commit to teach for two years in low-income communities.
More than $525,000 for non-profits have been raised in the 37-year history of the Redbud Classic.
“That’s such a meaningful thing to me. This just sort of speaks to my heart, the community aspect of it,” Sweet said of the Redbud Classic. “I love our city.”
More than 20 years later, Sweet still finds that running helps her cope with anxiety and stress and missing her father.
“I firmly believe that getting out and moving can make a huge difference in anyone’s life,” she said.
Sweet only runs in organized races that support a cause, such as the Redbud Classic or Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.
Her duties as the incoming executive director will keep her from running in this year’s Redbud, but she plans to run the half-marathon again in the upcoming Memorial Marathon.
“If you are out running for a reason it is such a wonderful motivator,” she said.
When: Saturday and Sunday
Where: Nichols Hills
What: On Saturday, 10/33/45 mile bike tours starting at 7 a.m. and 1-mile kids fun run at 11. On Sunday, 5K and 10K runs plus 5K wheelchair, 2-mile walk and 2-mile baby stroller derby begin at 1:45 p.m. and 2.
Entertainment: The fifth annual Redbud Bash, featuring food, beverages, games, family activities and live music, will start at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Nichols Hills Plaza.
To register: Individuals can register on the day of the race but advanced registration is recommended. Go to redbud.org to register or for more information.