On Wednesday September 28, 2011, I hit up the Oriental Theater for the Milwaukee Film Festival screening of Passing the Baton: the Joe Sims Milwaukee Striders Story. I can’t even tell you how many times I felt my eyes welling up with tears as I sat through this documentary.
The Milwaukee Striders was founded by Joe Sims in 1975, giving Milwaukee youth from at-risk neighborhoods the opportunity to not only run track, but to establish a track to take through life. I cried when the film showed footage of Sims explaining from his hospital bed how he never hesitated to fund the children through the program; I cried when current Striders’ coach Chrystal White comforted a young boy for not placing in a race; I cried when Striders qualified for nationals.
Why did this movie strike such an emotional chord within me? It is because I believe in Milwaukee and my beliefs begin with our youth. We can talk and write about the problems in Milwaukee all day, but action is necessary if we wish to guide our children to resist violence, pregnancy, drug/alcohol abuse, and the various problems faced in an urban environment.
Chrystal White is an amazing person, leading our youth to responsibility, health, security and scholarship. However, Chrystal White is only one person; we need more people to step up and do what she does. I hope this film inspires others to follow in her footsteps and contribute to setting the track for a positive future.