Rains held off and the temperature warmed helping make the ninth annual Fast Start Track and Field Invitational on February 1 the best yet for the 800 plus young participants at Showalter Field in Winter Park.
The highlights? “The smiles, energy, and determination of the kids. They were amazing,” said Scott Millson, founder of this annual, free event designed to inspire a love of running and fitness among the elementary school students in Maitland, Winter Park and Eatonville. Millson is a member of the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) Children & Youth Work Group.
As in past years, the opening ceremony had an Olympics feel as students marched in grouped by school, wearing school colors and carrying banners accompanied by Olympics-themed music. They were accompanied during the march by principals, Healthy School Team Leaders and coaches.
More than 100 student volunteers—primarily from Winter Park High School (WPHS), but also Trinity Prep, Maitland and Glenridge middle schools—were on hand to help line up students for races, hand out ribbons and medals, and make sure the athletes reconnected with parents. Many of them also were track athletes, including past participants in the Fast Start event.
Reflecting on the 2014 Fast Start, Millson said, “I couldn’t be happier or more proud of the athletes. They tried new events, ran farther and harder than they likely ever had before….and they did it with smiles on their faces.”
Participants can expect even more excitement at next year’s event, said Millson. “It is our 10th year, so we will be pulling out all the stops!”
Fast Start is supported in part with grant funds from WPHF. Healthy School Team Leaders help promote the event and train the young athletes who participate rep-resenting the eight elementary schools that are part of the WPHF’s Coordinated Youth Initiative.