Approximately 100 children and teens ran or walked along the streets of Eatonville participating in the 4th Annual “Run Around the Town” 5K event on October 28. 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!, Eatonville’s Walk n’ Talk Group, Boys and Girls Club staff and Eatonville residents monitored the course and ran with the kids. The kids were motivated during the event as residents cheered and applauded from their front yards along the route.
The event began as a small, practice 5K race for participants in the Girls on the Run (GOTR) program in Eatonville, but it generated excitement among members of the Eatonville Boys & Girls Club and youth throughout the town. In 2014, thanks to a grant made by the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) to the Positive Flow Foundation, the event was expanded and opened to all Eatonville youth. The event was upgraded from an informal activity to an official running event, including an inspirational start/finish line, T-shirts for participants and pre- and post-race refreshments. The Positive Flow Foundation, a nonprofit organization working with Eatonville students for more than seven years to inspire them to live positive and healthy lifestyles, now works annually to secure sponsors for the event.
“It was a fabulous night of watching kids enjoy the absolute thrill of crossing a finish line with a crowd cheering. I know I love that moment of accomplishment too and the children’s smiles were just precious,” said Mary Beth Brink, an avid runner and GOTR Coach.
The 14 girls participating in the Eatonville Boys and Girls Club GOTR team used the “Run Around the Town” to practice for upcoming 5K runs. Lisa Portelli, WPHF Program Director for Community Health, has coached the Eatonville GOTR team for four years. GOTR is an all-volunteer walking/running-based program for girls in 3rd-8th grades. It includes life skills lessons and 12 weeks of training enabling them to walk or run a 5K. This year, the program will culminate with the girls’ participation in the Track Shack Lake Eola 5K in Downtown Orlando on Saturday, December 5th.