More than 300 kids laced up their tennis shoes for Fort Jackson's fourth annual Color Run Aug. 18.

This year was "our best one yet," said Chicago-native Darius Lane, director of youth sports. Partnering with the community made the event bigger than ever before.

Garrison Command Sergeant Major Anthony Wilson's appearance in the dunk tank made it even better.

The morning one-mile run at the Youth Sports Complex kicked off the fun. Three age groups of kids --- ranging from 3 to 18 -- took off in a "just for fun run," Lane said. There was "no pressure," and the prize for all participants was a day out with the Family.

"That's the point of it," said Huntington, West Virginia-native Sunny Bolton, Child & Youth Services Coordinator. Her department was one of the main organizers of the event.

Activities like the Color Run are intended to provide a good time for everyone. They are "number one for fitness," she said, but are also supposed to build more resilient Army Families.

Some parents joined in and ran with their kids Saturday morning. Some of the youngest racers were pushed by their moms and dads in strollers. Others Family members held hands and egged each other on toward the finish line.

At seven points along the way, active-duty Soldiers threw colors on the runners. Though participants started with white shirts, they weren't blank canvases for long. Soon, they were covered in the volunteers' artwork.

The run itself only lasted around 15 minutes, Bolton said.

The day wasn't over then, though. Both Soldier volunteers and Families stuck around afterward.

The Soldiers "got to play" and do some team-bonding, she said. It was a free, relaxing event for all.

Kids and parents alike were entertained by music hosted by "DJ the DJ" and a dunk tank.

Lane said the dunk tank's volunteer, Wilson, didn't need much convincing.

The Color Run hosts wanted to choose someone who the kids knew and wanted to interact with. Wilson was an obvious choice, and kids were "really receptive" to it, Lane said.
Wison was a "really good sport" about it, he added. He even let the little kids cheat and step closer to improve their chances of hitting the bulls-eye for the dunk. Before dawning his underwater apparel, Wilson too ran in the race with his kids.

This year's addition of several new event partners and sponsors improved the Color Run's outcome, Bolton and Lane agreed. In previous years, participants just left after they finished the run. That wasn't the case in 2018.

Partners like Army Community Service, the Army National Guard and the Fire Department all helped make the event possible this year.

They expanded it from last year's diminished size, Lane said.

The Youth Sports Team, a group of just seven, should get special credit, Bolton said. They started preparations at 6:30 a.m. Saturday to have everything ready for the 9 a.m. kickoff. They stayed after to tear down, too.

Soldier volunteers were also pivotal to the event's success. "Without volunteers, there wouldn't have been anyone to throw color," Bolton said.

Sans the color, it couldn't have been a true "Color" Run.