Track meetView 7 Photos
The day before she was to turn 59, Valencia A. Jones died of natural causes. To honor her spirit and memory, her sons decided to hold a track meet for kids living in the Westside.
"She used to do a lot for the community," said William Jones Odom, who also holds an annual Easter egg hunt for children in the area, which is home to the College Hill Courts housing development.
Jones was a member of New Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church and spent decades at Dodson Avenue Health Center as a medical records clerk.
In her personal life, the single mother of five was fighting diabetes. Diet and exercise are the biggest antidotes to the disease. And in places like the Westside, it can be hard to access fresh food, leading many to rely on convenient alternatives, which often tend to be unhealthy.
Odom plans to make the track meet a recurring event. "It was the first annual and it turned out great. There were enough people for each heat," he said.
"There's a lot of negative stuff going on — killings and stuff — so I'm just trying to get in this community and bring it back together."