By Ms. Alexandra Shea (IMCOM)August 22, 2019
Music, squeals of excitement and laughter filled the early morning air at Fort Jackson's Youth Center field Aug. 17 as school age children, college students, volunteers, Soldiers and their Family members participated in the Back to School 5K Color Run.
Even though some students weren't eager to return to school, they hit the field running as they dashed through clouds of colored chalk.
"I need some color in my life," shouted 10-year-old William Aimes, as he ran open-armed through volunteers tossing handfuls of red and purple chalk.
More than 250 people attended the run in celebration of the start of a fresh school year. The run allowed Families to spend one last weekend together and those without children to get a little color on their cheeks before the sun-filled summer days come to an end.
"We are celebrating the end of a great summer," said Darius Lane, Fort Jackson Youth Sports Director. "It's a great Family event and we're getting kids fired up to go back to school."
Volunteers from across the installation staged in groups around the run route with buckets of colored chalk. They waited with anticipation as the runners neared, before turning clean shirts and faces rainbow colored. No person was safe from the volunteers, they even touched the toes and chubby legs of infants in strollers so they could be a part of festivities as well.
"I was at the grand exit and we threw chalk at the kids," said Sgt. Julian Pena from the Soldier Support Institute. "We had a hundred different colors and I'm covered in chalk."
Pena, a longtime volunteer with his church and local community, said he enjoyed making a mess of himself and the runners. He explained how the wind played a contributing factor as to why every inch of his body, hair and clothes was covered in the various colored chalk. "I had a great time," he said.
As the last of the runners, walkers and strollers crossed the finish line, all were treated to popcorn, snow cones, music and more fun. Bubbles from a nearby station floated lazily across the finish line's path and giant inflatables were filled for kids and teens to enjoy.
The Fort Jackson Fire Department joined in the fun as well by providing a dunk tank. They encouraged the smallest to hit the mark and send them into the water below. It was an event that offered family fun while keeping the crew refreshed during the day's building heat.
As the event came to an end, the field was dismantled. The only remnants of the race were colorful patches of grass. Parents dusted their Families off as much as possible before packing into the car and heading for the showers.
"I ran with my kids for the second year. We will do it again next year if we are still here," said Staff Sgt. Jonnae Summers of Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 193rd Infantry Brigade. "I didn't expect to get any color on me but I'm covered. The kids are walking home so we don't get color all over the car."