By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson has infected members of his staff and their families with the running bug.
Living in the most obese state in the country and working in a business where fitness and good health are crucial, the sheriff started a voluntary department running club to promote healthier lifestyles.
Johnson, an avid runner and fitness fanatic himself, decided about six weeks ago to get the club up and running.
“It started with about six deputies the first week,” said Johnson. “Then the next week there were 10, then 15 and now we are at about 20 weekly runners. And it’s not just our deputies. A lot of their families have also joined us.
“I find that it’s much easier to exercise when you have the support of others around you. We all support one another and we always finish together no matter how fast the fastest man is or how slow the slowest is.”
Their four-mile runs start with a prayer at 7 p.m. at the Sheriff’s Department. The route goes up Jefferson Street, down Robins Street, twice around the track at Robins Field on Madison Street, down Church Street, back up Jefferson and all the way to the BancorpSouth Arena.
Faster runners like Diarra Giddens lead the pack, often motivating those behind him. Even though he is usually in the front, Giddens always goes back to make sure slower runners are doing OK.
“We don’t leave anyone behind no matter how slow they are,” said Giddens, who is also a personal trainer. “We are a team and we run as a team. It’s not about how fast we can run, but about finishing together.”
Investigator Bobby Bean is usually toward the back of the pack, but said he feels very comfortable with the group.
“It’s a big help to me to be able to get out there and run with everyone,” said Bean. “I’m slower than most of the other runners, but I get to go at my own pace and we always finish together. I’m doing this for me.”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.