Running For the Y

Chicago resident Emmy Stanley has braced for what she expects to be a bittersweet visit to Door County this summer. In May, she’ll run the Door County Half Marathon, returning to Door County for a summer visit, but for the first time, without her father Hartley Barker there to meet her.

She’ll instead run the half marathon in his memory as part of the Run for A Cause program. She’s raised $1,950 so far in the effort, which she’ll donate to the Door County YMCA. Hartley Barker was integral in the effort to build the Northern Door YMCA, and was insistent that it include a gymnasium for kids.

Hartley Barker with daughter Emmy in 1998.

“He really loved kids,” Stanley said of her father, who died last September at the age of 87. “He spent a lot of time at the Y, and we really miss him. But we go to the Y when we’re up there to work out, and his picture is there, walking in the gym in his Strong Kids campaign shirt and his red suspenders.”

Stanley ran the Door County Half marathon in 2010, and last fall when she was in Arizona visiting family, she was out walking and thought, “I want to do the Half Marathon again, and this time I want to do it in memory of Dad,” she recalled.

So she signed up through the Run for A Cause program, which makes free race registrations available for those who raise at least $250 for a local nonprofit. It’s a fitting tribute to a man, who with his wife Ruth, gave so much back to the Door County community, including vital gifts to the Y, Peninsula Players, Ministry Door County Hospital, and the Door County Land Trust.

“You know your dad is doing all these things, but you don’t really appreciate it until he’s gone,” Stanley said.

Though coming back may be bittersweet, Stanley can take solace in the lasting contributions her father made to the community, contributions that will live on for generations.