About 60 youths ran or walked along the streets of Eatonville participating in the 3rd annual Run around the Town 5K race on October 29, urged along by neighbors cheering and applauding them from their front porches.
The run was made possible by a grant from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) to the Positive Flow Foundation, a non-profit that has been working with Eatonville students for more than six years to inspire them to live positive and healthy lifestyles.
“It was a fabulous night of watching kids enjoy the absolute thrill of crossing a finish line with a crowd cheering,” said Carolyn Tanner, an avid runner and a coach with Girls on the Run (GOTR). “I know I love that moment of accomplishment too, and the children’s smiles were just precious.”
The event was open to all children in Eatonville, but it also served as a practice 5K for the 22 girls participating in the Eatonville Boys and Girls Club GOTR team. Lisa Portelli, WPHF Program Director for Community Health, has coached the Eatonville GOTR team for three years and WPHF funds are used to purchase incentives including running shoes for the participants.
GOTR is an all-volunteer, walking/running-based program for girls in 3rd-8th grade that includes life skill lessons and 12 weeks of training to enable them to walk or run a 5K. The program will culminate with the girls completing the OUC 5K running event in downtown Orlando on December 6. “This years’ Run Around the Town was definitely better than ever,” said Sheena Oliver, Program Coordinator at the Boys and Girls Club. “The Positive Flow Foundation and WPHF grant funds meant the race was professionally done with an inspirational start/finish line and t-shirts and snacks for everyone.”
There were nearly as many volunteers for the event as runners to help keep the kids safe: the Healthy Eatonville Team, Girls on the Run Orlando Running Buddies, Black Girls RUN!, Mayor Bruce Mount’s Walk n’ Talk Group, Boys and Girls Club staff, and many Eatonville residents came together to monitor the course and 25 ran with the kids.
“It was a true community event – the townspeople stood on their front porches and cheered as the runners and the volunteers came by,” said Ms. Portelli.