By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterDecember 12, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (December 12, 2013) -- Soldiers and civilians driving around Fort Rucker may have seen a lone runner waving to passersby as they travel near the Ozark Gate and wondered, "Who is that guy?" Although many stop and speak with the aging runner, many will be surprised to know why he runs every day.
His name is Jaime Ambler; he is a UH-60 instructor pilot at Lowe Field. And as a retired CW3 Aviator himself, Ambler knows the struggles that Army civilians, Soldiers and Families face every day, which is his motivation to keep running, smiling and waving at each person who passes him on the road.
"I began running while I was in the military to stay fit and healthy, and once I retired I just kept it up because I found that I really enjoy it," he said. "It has become more of a ministry for me. If I can encourage someone who has had a bad day with a smile and a wave and make their day better then that is my small way of making Fort Rucker a happier place."
Better attitudes are not the only thing that Ambler is encouraging. He said that several elderly people have begun to run because of his constant reminder that no matter how old people may get they can still exercise.
"If you invest in your health then you will always reap benefits," he said. "We are all going to die, but you don't want to shorten that timeframe. So even if you just walk around a few minutes a day you are better off."
Ambler has been running as a civilian for 18 years, and runs between 4 1/2 and 8 miles a day, which is no easy feat considering he turns 60 next month.
"I do not like to run in the housing areas anymore because the dogs there began chasing me a few years ago," he said. "So I changed my route. But recently, the coyotes have begun chasing me, so I have to carry my trusty aluminum-pool skimmer that broke as a deterrent."
Ambler said his tradition of waving and smiling at people began by waving at the selected people that he knew.
"That lasted about a week, because I began to think, 'Why should I only smile and wave at certain people?' So I began to do it to everyone that passed me," he said. "People stop and tell me that I encourage them. So really, I am running for others now, I am not running for myself anymore."
Ambler wants to motivate others to have a good day and to get moving, but he also wants people to spread the good feelings.
"I hope people will find my smile contagious and give that gift in some way to others that they interact with during their work day," he said, adding that people cannot encourage others if they do not take the time to invest in themselves, as well.
Though he has not run in any national races, Ambler isn't one to be underestimated when it comes to athletic motivation and perseverance.
"That somebody is waiting for that smile or that wave is what motivates me to get out here and run every day," he said. "If I can inspire anyone's day then that is a win."
Even on days that are cold, windy and rainy, drivers can expect Ambler to be out on the road running the hills that surround the Ozark Gate.
"God has really enriched my heart to do this -- otherwise I would not have the strength to. I thank him that my knees are still functional and capable to run every day, because he is the one who inspires me to inspire others," he said.
Ambler is working towards completing a marathon, which is why his daily workouts are extra rewarding.
"Every time I exceed my intended goal for the day or week it really makes me happy and it's inspiring to myself," he said. "Every time I literally go an extra mile, I know I am almost there."
And his name matches his ways. The dictionary defines ambler as a person or animal that moves at a slow, easy gait. And Fort Rucker's Ambler jogs at a slow, easy gait, accomplishing most of his miles at a 10-12 minute pace.
"This is a quiet time for me. I get questions answered and find new ones," he said. "I am happy that I am physically and mentally able to get out here and affect someone's morning or day. I love it when people wave back because that encourages me back."