FORT STEWART, Ga. - Children from Diamond Elementary School showed their commitment to fitness by sacrificing their sleep on a Saturday morning to run in the second annual Diamond Elementary School Marathon Club Fun Run, held May 8 at Fort Stewart.

Fifty-five members of the school marathon club, ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade, along with 42 guest runners, completed a 5-kilometer run, and 39 walkers participated in the 2-kilometer walk as part of a year-long goal to cumulatively run 26.2 miles.

"We want our boys and girls to know how important it is to eat right and have a healthy lifestyle," said Linda Kidd, Diamond Elementary School principal. "The purpose of creating the marathon club was to help introduce the children to fitness at a young age. The fun run is the culminating event for the year."

Kidd said she appreciated the community partnership fostered by the event and that the parents and grandparents could participate in the event. She also said she was particularly proud of Vivien Kloppel-Harkrader and Jennifer Weber for the countless hours they spent organizing the marathon club and coordinating the fun run.

Kloppel-Harkrader started the marathon club and organized the first fun run at Diamond Elementary School last year. While living in Ramstein, Germany, the school she worked at had a marathon club, and she wanted to bring that tradition to Diamond Elementary.

"The younger you can start to instill the concepts of health and fitness into the children, the more successful they will be as adults," Kloppel-Harkrader said.

Soldiers from the 2/306th Field Artillery Battalion and 2/349th Logistics Support Battalion and 188th Infantry Brigade headquarters volunteered their time to make the fun run a success by assisting in coordinating the route, setting-up for the event, providing static vehicle displays, medical support, grillers to assist with cooking, and Soldiers to run with students.

Captain James Young, action officer for run, said he was happy to come out and help the 1/9th Field Artillery Battalion's adopted school while they are deployed to Iraq.

"Physical fitness is an important part of the overall fitness of all individuals as Soldiers, civilians or Family Members," said Col. Robert A. Warburg, 188th Infantry Brigade commander. "I support the Diamond Elementary School Fun Run as it promotes the Army Family and physical fitness at a young age."

During the awards ceremony Kloppel-Harkrader thanked the 188th Infantry Brigade for sponsoring the event, along with the Piggly Wiggly of Glenville and the Fort Stewart Commissary for donating hot dogs, buns and condiments for the event.

The 188th Infantry Brigade, along with the other training support brigades in First Army Division East, provides and facilitates theater-focused training for deploying National Guard and Reserve formations. Based out of Fort Stewart, the 188th has been training deploying National Guard and Reserve units for Iraq deployments continuously since 2003.