For those who saw our front-page story in Tuesday’s edition, and for those who crave the outdoors and love worthwhile civic causes, we refer to the first-ever Barefoot Run 5K scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. All proceeds will be used for the purchase of children’s footwear on behalf of the Shoes campaign later this year.
Yes, it’s a bona fide 5K to be held in one of this community’s most beautiful, and tranquil, passive parks; that is, Fletcher Park.
Yes, medals will be awarded to first, second and third-place finishers in an array of age groups, and an overall winner will be crowned in both men’s and women’s divisions.
Yes, it is a family-friendly event set against the backdrop of Mother Nature like none other.
Yes, it is certain to attract a legion of local running enthusiasts who enjoy nothing more than a relaxing 3.1-mile jaunt, as well as a league of others who wish to participate in the one-mile Fun Run or Walk.
But no, participants are not required to run in their bare feet. The clever name, Barefoot Run 5K, was given by Shoes For Orphan Souls organizers who are bringing home a point; that is, to help others better understand the feeling of living life, day after day, without the benefit of shoes.
In most corners of America, we take it for granted.
But in more than 70 countries around the world, including our own, impoverished regions and villages cannot afford the luxury of shoes for their orphaned children.
Although foot safety is the physical reason for fitting these youngsters with shoes, the program goes far beyond. It is best explained by Keith Gombash, a longtime Shoes For Orphan Souls volunteer who is coordinating Saturday’s symbolic road race.
“Fitting a pair of new shoes on an orphan in a third world country is like lacing up that child’s life with hope,” the civic servant told our newspaper. “There are a lot of reasons this is so.”
He explained, “Statistics show that a child’s state of health improves significantly with just a pair of shoes. This is because without shoes a child’s growing foot calluses and cracks open, allowing infection to enter the young body.”
But looking much deeper into this humanitarian need, it becomes obvious why children mired in poverty in foreign and distant lands can benefit from just a simple pair of shoes.
Says Gombash, it’s an education factor.
“Without shoes these kids will not be accepted into a school. Without an education, the hope for reasonable employment is gone.”
Truly, a simple pair of shoes means real hope to a child.
After the start of Saturday’s activities at 10, medals will be awarded at noon. Everyone who pre-registers for the event by today will receive a ‘Barefoot Run’ T-shirt.
Pre-registration for Barefoot Run 5K is $25 and ends Friday. Registration on the day of the event is $30. Start and finish are both at Fletcher Park which is located at 1575 Tennessee Nursery Road. The one-mile Fun Run/Walk entry is $20.
In recognition of our newspaper’s past support of Shoes For Orphan Souls, Barefoot Run organizers have invited the Cleveland Daily Banner to serve as primary sponsor. We have gladly accepted.
Our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown hosts many worthwhile fundraising events on behalf of excellent causes.
Barefoot Run 5K is one such event.
Shoes For Orphan Souls is one such cause.
We hope area families will turn out Saturday. It promises to be a beautiful day whose spring warmth is dedicated to our most precious — orphaned children of America and worldwide.