On the course and racing
As Healthy Kids Running Series celebrates its 10th anniversary of inspiring young boys and girls across North America to get up and race competitively, we wanted to share some insight from our founder, Jeff Long, about our most recent 10 Fest Celebration in Orlando, FL, on March 10. We hope you will consider speaking to Jeff to hear about Healthy Kids Running Series impact on young children.
A Celebration of 10 Years of Racing towards A Healthier Lifestyle for Young Boys and Girls - as told by Jeff Long, founder, Healthy Kids Running Series:
If there was any doubt that Orlando, FL is the most magical place on earth, Healthy Kids Running Series proved it was on March 10, 2019. Over a year ago, the staff at Healthy Kids realized the organization’s 10-year anniversary was approaching, and they wanted to capitalize on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After multiple internal meetings, consulting with their Advisory Board and hiring a public relations firm, it was decided the time had come for a new logo, an anniversary logo, a website redesign and three new regional events. Over the course of the year, Healthy Kids and 2010 Solutions, their creative agency, got to work and shaped a brand promise and a new logo to reflect its history and mission.
Final instructions before the starter turns them loose at the Orlando "10 Fest"
“Healthy Kids Running Series is a national, community-based non-profit that
provides a fun, inclusive, five-week running series for ages 2-14 designed to get
kids active, experience accomplishment and lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.”
Simultaneously, the wheels were put in motion to launch three regional events that would allow kids from all over the country to not only race against their peers, but to also celebrate the 10-year anniversary. Thus, the creation of ‘10 Fest’ was born. Soon, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Chicago were identified as the regional destinations to host these events. The concept was to create a festival atmosphere with music, activity stations, face painting, sponsor booths, giveaways and food trucks all based around age-appropriate races for boys and girls, pre-k through middle school.
Healthy Kids Running Series started in 2009 as a community give back program for President Jeff Long’s Pattison Sports Group. While attending an entrepreneur workshop, Long was asked about his contributions to the community. Having just opened Pattison Sports Group, Long was working to keep the lights on and make his mortgage payments.
“Knowing that society has a way of giving back what you put out and leaning on my high school and collegiate running experience, we created Healthy Kids Running Series,” said Long.
The format was based on the idea that most kids’ first running experience is from their mom or dad dragging them to a 5K and not being prepared to run the full distance. Unsurprisingly, the negative impact can bury deep in the kid’s soul, creating a general animosity for running.
Healthy Kids Running Series’ goal of introducing kids to age appropriate running distances in order to graduate them through the program is a well-embraced activity option for parents. Not to mention, local middle school and high school track and cross-country coaches support Healthy Kids Running Series because it aids the development of the next generation of runners.
“The psychology of the concept infuses a positive association with running, while instilling the habits of an active lifestyle,” added Long. “Healthy Kids proves running can be as fun and motivating as the child wants it to be.”
High Fives for Everyone
“We also discovered another phenomenon: kids in the back of races are cheered for as much as the kids in the front, helping to build huge amounts of self-esteem,” said Long.
A week out from 10 Fest Orlando, the Healthy Kids staff got to work loading their van, SaVANnah Vantasic, with supplies before heading south! After a year’s worth of preparation, the time had come to execute Race Bag Pick-Up and the Races!
10 Fest Orlando kicked off with a Proclamation from the City of Orlando. The sun was shining, music was playing, and vendors were set up everywhere. There were face painters, moon bounces and a stilt walker!
The time had finally come for the start of the girls and boys two-year-old 50 Yard Dashes. Kids from Jacksonville to Miami and across the state of Florida attended to test their skills and meet new friends. There was even a family in attendance from Massachusetts! Johnny Murphy of Plymouth, MA, had won all five races in his fall Series, falling in love with running in the process. His family decided to fly down to Orlando to test his skills against other runners!
“We decided to come down for the weekend to give Johnny a little competition and make a vacation out of it,” said Murphy’s father. “He won 2nd place and we’re pumped.”
One runner participated to honor fallen police officers. Zechariah Cartledge, a 10-year-old Central Florida native, who has raised over $30,000 in the past two years for families of police officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty, ran the mile race. He runs races throughout Florida to raise awareness.
“I started running races for the fallen officers with the hope that it shows others and kids in particular, that police officers are good people and that they do a lot in our communities,” said Cartledge.
The day was filled with fast times, lots of cheering and multiple high fives! Upon the completion of the 50-Yard Dash, the 75-Yard Dash, Quarter Mile, Half Mile and Mile ensued. Prior to the Awards Ceremony, 10 Fest hosted an Alumni and Parent Mile Race won in 5:10 by Matt Lester, a current high school junior who ran as a seventh grader in the Seminole County, Florida Series.
About Healthy Kids Running Series:
The Healthy Kids Running Series was founded in 2009 to combat increasing rates of childhood obesity through the introduction of running. What began in West Chester, PA, now operates in upwards of 250 communities across the country. HKRS is a national, community-based non-profit that provides a fun, inclusive, five-week running series for ages 2-14 designed to get kids active, experience accomplishment and lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Visit us at www.HealthyKidsRunningSeries.org.
To register a child, volunteer or become a sponsor for a spring Series, please visit our website at www.HealthyKidsRunningSeries.org. If you are interested in starting a Healthy Kids Running Series program in your community, visit the “Start a Race” page on www.HealthyKidsRunningSeries.org for more information.