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The community comes together to run and enjoy festivities to promote physical fitness among youth
Excitement filled the streets of downtown Lynchburg Friday, Sept. 28. when 750 children took their marks for the 12th Annual Amazing Mile Children’s Run and Family Festival.
“I’m so excited to run the race with my mommy,” four-year-old Emma Grove said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Liberty University Athletic Director Jeff Barber and others from the athletic department support the fitness event.
“I’m really happy to be here at the Amazing Mile Children’s Run and Family Festival because it is a great family festival that is fun for everybody,” Athletic Director Jeff Barber said. “Promoting fitness is something the city of Lynchburg is doing, and we at Liberty always try to be apart of the community.”
Preparations began in March, when organizers reached out to the community for sponsors.
“This year, we spent a little more time working on receiving a grant from the VA Department of Health under the ACHIEVE Grant,” Amazement Square Director of Marketing Ashleigh Karol said. “With the help of this grant, we were able to provide 133 area youth with scholarships to participate in the Amazing Mile.”
The Amazing Mile Children’s Run works in conjunction with the 39th annual Virginia 10-Miler, but is strictly for children.
“Getting kids to have fun but at the same time being active is the goal of the race,” Karol said.
Last year’s race recorded 550 runners and 3,500 attendants at the family festival. This year’s race maxed out the 750 capacity of runners, and more than 4,000 attended the festival.
The races were split in one-fourth, one-half and one-mile races. Races began at 6:15 p.m., but families were welcomed at 4:30 p.m. for the Family Festival. The festival included face painting, balloon art, four training stations where children warmed up with local collegiate coaches and athletes, and live music from a local band, the Ruckus.
Liberty cheerleaders were accompanied by Sparky and joined by the Lynchburg Legends, WildCat women’s basketball team from Randolph College, and retired NFL center and Virginia Tech alumnus, Jake Grove, who participated with his daughter, Emma.
“It’s great for Liberty cheerleaders to be out here giving spirit to all the runners,” Liberty head cheerleader Brittany Durnil said. “It’s a great experience for us to come out, and they can see what Liberty is about and the positive atmosphere we bring to the community.”
“I think it’s a great family event that gets your kids out and active,” Grove said. “Exercise, which I think today’s kids cannot get enough of, and also just bringing everyone together, is great. I hope to be a part of it for years to come.”
All children participating in the event were winners. Prior to the event, each runner received an Amazing Mile T-shirt and goodie bag. After the race, they all received a medal and an additional goodie bag.
“Having local community athletes come to support the children is a great motivator,” Karol said. “Giving these kids local community heroes to look up to and have as role models in the community where they live is a great way for children to see physical activity as a positive experience.”