Main Event: Runners and walkers set the Gold standard
It was a day of fun-filled family activities at the 25th annual Go for the Gold, July 9 at Silver Lake Park.
About 500 people attended the 5K run and 3K family fun walk and raised more than $28,000 for Brighter Tomorrows, an organization that serves families touched by childhood cancer.
Emily Brownfield, executive director of Brighter Tomorrows, said she was impressed with the number of volunteers that step up to make Go for the Gold happen each year.
"And there's such a great turnout year after year," she said. "The kids have such fun. There's an energy here I don't see at other races."
Janice Grace was co-chairwoman of the event for the second year. She is a supporter of Brighter Tomorrows, she said, "because it helps so many families. What drives me to be a part of this day are the stories of the families."
Tony and Amanda Burrow shared their story of childhood cancer.
Their daughter Emma, 5, began treatment for leukemia earlier this year, and Amanda said their family has appreciated attending the Brighter Tomorrows' monthly get-togethers.
"It's been good for our children to have other kids to relate to, because they understand what each other are going through," she said.
"Team Emma," a group of some 50 friends of the Burrow family, came to support Tony and Amanda and their children, Emma, Ada, William and Charlie.
The family and friends of Christa and Aaron Keehr came to support "Hannah the Tiny Warrior," who just turned four years old.
Hannah was diagnosed at two-and-a-half years old with neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer most often found in children younger than 5.
"She's just finishing treatment," Christa said. "She's come a long way. She's doing well."
Christa said their family also enjoyed the monthly family get-togethers through Brighter Tomorrows.
"It was really good for Jacob (Hannah's brother.) Amazing for him just to play with the other siblings," she said.
Wearing a t-shirt stating, "Guardians of Grey Matter," Jessica Westphal said she came to run the 5K for her son Nick.
"Brighter Tomorrows has been good for us," she said. "They brought a cooler full of goodies and gift cards when we were in the hospital. I attend parent meetings too. It's nice to go into a room and talk with other parents who are experiencing some of the same things I am."
At this year's event, seven teams raised more than $1,000 each. The top fundraiser, donating more than $5,400, was 16-year old Lizzy Hansen and her sister Amanda. Her mom, Mary Hansen, who served as co-chairwoman of the event, said, "It's been a family effort, reaching out to businesses and individuals for their support."
Lizzy, who was also helping chip-time the race, said her favorite part of the day is "seeing the little kids happy. They come out here and have fun with the dunk tank and the face painting. It's worth it."
Through its family gatherings, Tomorrows Chapter bereavement group, and many other services, Brighter Tomorrows provides outreach to families touched by childhood cancer.
For more information visit www.brightertomorrowshope.org .