Lace up your sneakers because the annual Rally for Riekes takes place on Friday, September 20 from 6 to 10 p.m. The Riekes Center, an amazing 40,000 square foot facility which is a mecca for athletes, musicians, actors, performers, volunteers and mentors, is the living dream-come-true of Stanford Alumni Gary Riekes. It will also serve as the venue for the fundraiser with a variety of interactive fitness, music and nature activities offered to anyone who has a ticket. “The evening allows us an opportunity to highlight and showcase what we do so that we can raise funds for scholarships,” explained Development Director Beth Ross.
Shirin Coleman, a mother of four who has attended Rally for Riekes for the last six years, shared her experience. “This is a time when people get a feel for the fun of what the Center does. Various tables are set up for the evening. For instance, the outdoor group at one of the nature tables demonstrated how to make a pizza in a brick oven while another section was set up for a spit dart competition." Using a handmade bamboo tube that students hollowed out, Rally goers had fun blowing through the tubes and aiming for the dart board.
There is a completely separate room for mixing music and making rap. The idea is that people will want to come and learn or practice something in which they are interested.
“It’s incredibly moving to witness the enthusiasm amid the sincerity by those who participate and attend. Everyone that comes to the event truly wants to be there. When former students come back to speak, it is equally as touching," added Coleman who recalled a newly married veteran who addressed the audience. "He talked about the rehabilitative work he did through the Center and told us about the tremendous support he received. Everyone was so humbled by his gratitude and strength. It brought the room to tears.
"The Riekes Center establishes that everyone is equal. I remember that first time when Gary gave us a tour. He took us into the kitchen and told us, ‘There is always peanut butter and jelly because not every student always has food. We want to make sure that everyone gets something to eat. But everyone has to clean up after themselves, even those who have maids at home. Everyone works and has pride in it. They respect it. Everyone has the same responsibilities to keep it clean and take care of it.'
“There’s this beautiful sense of community founded on non-judging and only encouragement and support to achieve one’s goals. There is no comparison between you and anyone else with a built-in motivation for the individual to do their best. When that sense of comparison is not a part of the environment, then everyone is cheering each other on."
As quoted in an article on Stanford University’s website, Riekes said, “One constant in the evolution of the Center has been the core values of quality without judgment. Everyone is always as important as anyone else. No matter how accomplished or challenged a person might seem, that person is highly valued simply for who he or she has chosen to be as an individual.”