Saturday Spotlight- Gills Rivadeneyra

My story is completely different. I have had a great life with few regrets, and even those “Wish I would have’s” are minor compared to the struggles of so many folks. My biggest regret in life is not having hitch-hiked to the Woodstock Music Festival back in the ’60’s.

I was born in Mexico City into a family of athletes: my Dad was once National “Athlete of the Week” after being the high-scorer in a Conference Basketball game, then driving to the Football Stadium and scoring a bunch of Touchdowns; a first cousin was on the Mexican Olympic Swimming Team, and another first cousin on the Team for the Pan-American Games; one of my uncles was World Champion Singles Jai-a-Lai player in 1953; another uncle was the starting Catcher for many years in the Mexican League. But the greatest accomplishment was by another uncle who was voted the Greatest Athlete of the First Half Century (1900-1949) for all of Mexico, which is the same award that, in the U.S., was given to Jim Thorpe. So my Dad and his brothers were national celebrities, and I was born with a nice set of genes! Living in the U.S. brought lots of new and fun challenges, and my brothers and Dad and I always learned of new things to do and said “We can do that”. One year growing up in Queens we saw a bunch of people running and asked someone what they were doing… it was the Queens Half-Marathon, so we all ran it the next year. My Dad heard about some Masters Games and decided to become a Decathlete, and won the National Masters Title, throwing the shot-put next to Al Oerter, who had won 3 or 4 Olympic Gold Medals! We saw the NYC Marathon on TV, said “We can do that”, and I wound up running 7 of them with my Dad and brother Tony. The one that made my Dad proudest was in 1987 when I pushed my son in a jogging stroller (before they were outlawed), so we were Three generations!

I can go on and on about this stuff, but I want to share what the Selden Hills brought to me. I was an Air Traffic Controller for 30 Years. We are a unique and tight-nit bunch, because our World is so different, and there are so few of us compared to the population. We have our own language and work in a cocoon that no one outside of ATC can understand. It is truly a family. I was forced to retire due to old age in March, 2011. I was also the soccer coach for a Team of my daughter Sara’s friends since they were 9 years old in 2004, and that also was a family to me (I guess you all know where I’m going with this now, LOL!). But last Summer, since they were almost all going off to College, I had to break up the Team. In the meantime Lou kept telling me for months that I should come down and run the Hills, and I always said “But I already run the Hills” (I’ve been running them for over 25 years). Well a while after the loss of both my “Families” a friend of mine told me that it seemed like something was wrong and missing in my life. To make a long story short, I didn’t realize what a great family this is, nor what I was missing by not joining all of you sooner.

FYI…. next Friday, since it will be too difficult for me to give you A “Fun-Fact-Friday” fact about myself, I will probably choose a few out of dozens that I can think of. Have a great week everyone, and keep these incredible stories coming

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