Community Sports


RUNNING

Sept. 16, 2006

Kids, families keep coming to JCPS Fun Run

By NATHAN CHAMBERS
BeyondTheDerby.com

To Terrie Brown’s three sons, running with mom might not have sounded like the best incentive to get out of bed on Saturday morning.

"They didn’t want to get up,” she said.

But Brown thought she had a great reason to awaken 14-year-old Stasean, 12-year-old Jalen, and five-year-old Alexander on Saturday. She wanted all four of them to take part in the Jefferson County Public School’s 18th annual Family Fitness Fun Run at Iroquois Park, and they did.

“I’m trying to teach my kids the importance of exercise, that it can be fun, and that you can do it as a family,” Brown said.

That would please the group of JCPS physical education teachers who brainstormed ideas to promote fitness education while sitting inside a Chi-Chi’s restaurant more than 18 years ago.

“We were trying to think how we could get kids ready for the fitness test in P.E. class,” said Joy Heines, a Hite Elementary School phys-ed teacher and one of the founders of the Family Fitness Fun Run. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat if we had a day when the kids could practice for the mile in school, could come out for a big fitness walk?’”

Heines, Bev Gass and Jim Swetnam made it happen, with assistance from JCPS arts and music teachers and sponsorship from Humana and Audubon Hospital.

Although such support has disappeared and participation has decreased in the years since the event debuted on Oct. 14, 1989, the Family Fitness Fun Run – and its three-year-old sibling, the more competitive Fun Run Classic – are going strong. Heines estimated that more than 2,000 JCPS students and family members ran or walked at Iroquois Park on Saturday.

The morning began with the Fun Run Classic, which included a five-kilometer race for JCPS staff members; a five-kilometer race for high school students; a two-mile race for middle school students; a one-mile race for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students; and another one-mile race for kindergarten, first- and second-grade students. Then there were three Family Fitness Fun Runs, each offering a non-competitive one-mile run/walk or a five-kilometer run. And throughout the event there were giant inflatables for kids and a health fair, which has been added under JCPS Practical Living Specialist Donna Benton's leadership over the last four years.

Jennah Fahringer, an eight-year-old third-grader at Foster Academy, enjoyed all of it.

"I like the Family Run and the games and the activities and the Moonbounce," she said.

Heines recently began her 22nd year in teaching. Gass and Swetnam, who both are retired from full-time teaching, still are actively involved with the event.

“We said we’d see it through a 20th year,” Heines said. “But if people keep coming out, I’m sure it’ll go past 20. It won’t go anywhere.”