It was 1993, the year of the "Great Midwest Flood."
Professor of Education Rachel Serianz, PhD, and her children helped with sandbagging in downtown Davenport. "I wanted to give back," she said. "I was in a very good mood that summer having just finished orals for my doctorate."
Rachel Serianz heard the mayor's appeal to walk the Quad-City Times Bix 7 race as a way of showing the world that Davenport was not "under water." She was in.
"I didn't own a single pair of running or tennis shoes, so we went shopping," said Rachel Serianz. As she headed to the checkout, there was her husband, Art Serianz, PhD, with his own box of shoes under his arm.
The professor and chair of the Chemistry Department was "in" too.
With no preparation, the St. Ambrose couple surprised themselves by completing the race in less than two hours instead of their expected three.
"We really liked it; we were hooked after our first Bix," said Rachel Serianz.
So they decided to prepare the next year. And after that year, they just kept going.
"This year was our 20th Bix," Art Serianz said recently. Spread in front of them, 40 t-shirts, race bibs and several commemorative medals.
Why do they keep doing it?
"We like to keep fit, to have a challenge that is somewhat difficult," said Rachel Serianz. "It's a great event in the Quad Cities, an opportunity to meet people, to celebrate being in the Quad Cities. And sometimes former students call out, 'Hey, Dr. Serianz!'"
"The Bix provides a goal for training; the real intent is to keep ourselves physically fit," added Art Serianz.
Not surprisingly, a couple often seen together on campus also trains together. Starting with "mall-walking" after Christmas, they move to walking near their rural home, on the community bike trails, and in the neighborhoods around St. Ambrose, once the weather turns warmer. Two of their grown children run marathons. "We think they got their start at the Bix," Art Serianz said.
Ever the educator, Rachel Serianz reflects on the importance of such a commitment. "It's important for people to try things, to really push themselves out of their comfort zones."
How did the Iconic Couple Meet?
It was Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, 1967. Rachel was a first-year student and Art, a senior. They were married in 1974 and have three children.