Runners cross the finish line of a 26 mile marathon. Medals are awarded and the celebrating of a major accomplishment begins.
But the people claiming victory aren’t your typical runners. They’re kids who have dedicated the last few months to training their bodies to complete a daunting task.
The Be The Match donor program is sponsoring the event to not only raise money to find matches for bone marrow transplant recipients, but they are also hoping to motivate kids to get healthy and get moving.
“We want to show kids that this is an attainable goal if you take it one mile at a time,” said Nancy Goodnight, Race Director for the event.
After signing up and paying a $10 fee, each child logs 25 miles until the Jan. 30 race date.
“We have whole classes that have signed up to run,” Ms. Goodnight said. “I even know of one school that when a kid finishes a mile, they get a star on their name. They can see their success.”
On the day of the race, the children will finish their last mile crossing the Waco Suspension Bridge.
“When they cross the finish line, they get a real medal and a nice T-shirt,” she said. “Then we’re going to have a big kids’ party in Indian Springs Park.”
The donor program, which is housed at Scott & White hospital, expects between 600 and 1000 kids to participate in the last leg of the race.
While the kids are running, sponsors hope that parents will feel encouraged to donate or sign up to become a bone marrow donor.
Children are also encouraged to take pledges for each part of the race they complete.
“Friends and family members can give $1 a mile or $5 a mile,” Ms. Goodnight said. “And there’s a prize for the child who raises the most money.”
Even though fund raising and bone marrow awareness are a big part of the event, Ms. Goodnight wants to share the thrill of accomplishment with the children who participate.
“The day I crossed my first finish line was the day that I felt like I could do anything,” she said. “It gave me tremendous confidence and I want to pass that along to the kids.”