Participants cross the starting line at the 2017 Kansas Half Marathon on November 5, 2017. Photo credit: Run Lawrence.
Get behind the local race with a big heart
By Melanie Coen, Heartland Community Health Center
For a caring and connected community like Lawrence, KS, special events are more than just fun weekend activities, they become the ties that bind, as we open our hearts (and spill our sweat) to support our community’s needs. Now 11 years running, the Kansas Half Marathon and 5K, presented this year by Edmonds Duncan Registered Investment Advisors, is one of those events – one that has become a tradition among runners, walkers and supporters who do it to help others.
“This will be our team’s 4th year to run the Kansas Half Marathon,” said Lisa Leroux-Smith, member of the ‘Sarah is our Superhero’ running group.” We’re not just running friends, we’re like family. After the Kansas Half this year, we are headed to Memphis for a repeat performance at the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Marathon, the hospital where Sarah seeks treatment. Look for us in our bright orange shirts and blue capes running the Kansas Half for Sarah again this year!”
“Sarah is our Superhero” started as a way for running friends to support a group member’s daughter, Sarah, diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 5. The group is a perfect illustration of love and friendship through adversity. Sarah is now in high school, still battling her diagnoses. She remains the group’s “superhero.”
From friends supporting friends to community members supporting each other, the Kansas Half has always had a big heart. For 2018, the race has a new host organization, but the mission remains the same – help those in need and build a healthier community. Heartland Community Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center serving Douglas and surrounding counties since 1999, will host the annual race, raising funds to provide access to health care for all in the region, regardless of income or insurance status.
“I didn’t know where to go for health care. I work hard, but after some tough family stuff, I had no money and no insurance, “said one of Heartland’s patients. “I need help with my diabetes and don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t found Heartland. They treated me with such respect.”
Community members from all walks of life access and depend on Heartland’s services. In an uncertain time of healthcare coverage, Heartland steps into the gap and provides the kind of integrated care that can make the difference between staying healthy or ending up in the emergency room. Heartland offers integrated primary care, mental and behavioral health care, dental care, and physical therapy, along with a variety of wraparound programs.
Jennifer Stucker, director of special events at Heartland, has organized the race for the last 3 years. “We’re thrilled that the legacy of the race will carry on through Heartland and continue to benefit the community in a critical and meaningful way by supporting health care for all,” said Stucker. “We encourage everyone to join the fun and help with our biggest fundraising event.”
Part of the 2018 Harvest Half Series of races, the Kansas Half Marathon and 5K presented by Edmonds Duncan Registered Investment Advisors will take place on Sunday, November 4, at Watson Park. The half marathon begins at 7:30 a.m., with the 5k starting at 7:45 a.m. The race is appropriate for all fitness levels, offering both run and walk options, and organizers are still hoping that more participants will get registered between now and race day.
All runners that are registered receive a t-shirt and finishers receive a sunflower medal. This year, top finishers will also receive cash prizes, shoes, gift cards, and more. The race is on a certified course and offers chip timing. For more information or to register for the race, the public can visit www.kansashalfmarathon.com. Readers of this article get a 10% discount by entering code READERSRUN at checkout.
Anyone can support the race and Heartland, beyond registering, by stopping by Merchants Pub and Plate at 746 Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, KS on race day. 10% of all breakfast and brunch sales on Nov. 4 will go to benefit Heartland. Runners and walkers can refuel after the race or community members can just come out and enjoy a meal for a good cause.
In addition to Edmonds Duncan Advisors, the race is also sponsored by Garry Gribble Running Sports, Great Plains Media (92.9FM The Bull, 105.9 KISS FM, KLWN AM1320/FM101.7), LMH Health, HyVee, Black Hills Energy, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, Haase + Long, Westar Energy, M Cubed Technologies, Lynn Electric, F.I.T. Muscle and Joint Clinic, 23rd Street Brewery, SPIN Neapolitan Pizza and Merchants Pub and Plate.
For more information about Heartland Community Health Center, please visit www.heartlandhealth.org.
Melanie Coen is Director of Marketing & Communications for Heartland Community Health Center. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org