Armed Forces Kid's Run draws record turnout
May 22, 2013
Nearly 200 members of Fort Belvoir's youth community braved rainy conditions to compete in the 11th annual Armed Forces Kid's Run Saturday at Pullen Track.
That's the largest turnout in the history of the event here, according to Jerry Arrington, Fort Belvoir Child, Youth and School Services sports and fitness director and host.
"This is the most we've had sign up for this event so far; I'm extremely excited about the number of kids who came out for this -- 182 in all -- and that we can provide the opportunity for the kids to just come out and run and have some fun," he said.
The Armed Forces Kid's Run provides military-dependent children an opportunity to compete in a variety of distance runs in different age groups to celebrate Armed Forces Day, the annual holiday established by President Harry S. Truman in 1949 for U.S. citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country, according to the Department of Defense.
According to an America's Armed Forces Kid's Run press release, the event began in 1986 with 3,800 children participating in the first run in Spokane, Wash. Throughout the past 24 years 198,000 children ages 5 to 13 have enjoyed the run in Spokane, and in 2002 the organization began to offer it to all military bases.
The 2013 celebration involved 21,875 youth runners competing on 178 military installations worldwide.
"We've been doing this for the last ten years at Belvoir; it's one of the fitness programs we have to try to get kids involved in running," Arrington said.
Arrington also said the run aims to get more children actively involved in competition and to provide an alternative sport for youth who choose not to participate in the installation's organized team sports.
"Not all kids play team or individual sports. This is an opportunity for those kids who are not comfortable with playing on a team," he said. "This event is in May every year to celebrate Armed Forces Day and it's just for kids to have a chance to get out, run and enjoy themselves."
The individual distance runs are geared towards three separate levels of athletic development.
"We have the 5 to 6-year-old run, which is twice around the track, or a half mile. Then we have the 7 to 8-year-old race, which covers one mile. The 2-mile run is for the 9 to 13 age group," Arrington said.
But everyone was invited to run, regardless of age, this year, he added.
Belvoir's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Child, Youth and School Services sponsored the event in cooperation with CYSS Sports and Fitness Assistant Director, Julie Libert; CYSS Youth Sports Specialist, Aricka Vaughan; volunteers from Belvoir's fitness programs, and parents.
Participants paid a $6 entrance fee to cover the cost of the participation T-shirt each runner received before the races, as well as refreshments CYSS staff provided on the field, Libert said.
In keeping with the Family-centered tradition of the Armed Forces Kids Run, many moms and dads joined their children in participating in the races as well.
For more information about the Armed Forces Kids Run, visit www.americankidsrun.org or www.belvoirmwr.com, or call Julie Libert at (703) 805-9138.