Run for Shelter fun way to help kids in need

Running can always help improve your body, but it’s not often running can give you the ability to improve the quality of life for someone else.

Family Connection in Alabaster will hold its first Run for Shelter on Saturday, July 10 at 8 a.m.

All proceeds benefit the Family Connection shelter.

The shelter is open to youths ages 12-17 who have left difficult home lives and need a safe place to stay. Operating at its current location since 1986, it currently can sleep 18 people.

Family Connection’s Executive Director Susan Johnston said that money raised at the event will help the shelter with “operational” costs such as food, clothing, staff and utility bills.

“Take the amount of these things you use at home and multiply it by 18,” Johnston said. “And that will give you an idea of what we need.”

Johnston developed the idea for the run as a fundraiser when her daughter convinced her to participate in a 5k last year.

“I said ‘Are you crazy, sister? I can’t even run a mile on the treadmill’” Johnston said. However, she ended up bringing home first place in her age group. The run was such a great experience for her that she decided it might be a fun way to raise money for the shelter.

“I thought we could do it to prevent children from just running away,” Johnston said. “Instead, they could be running for shelter [at Family Connection].”

Dairy Queen in Alabaster is the main sponsor of the event, and also helps at-risk children in general.

“Chris Buckmaster, Dairy Queen’s general manager, has a big heart for kids; children can go into the Alabaster Dairy Queen if they’re in crisis, and the employees are actually trained to help them until we at the shelter can come and pick them up,” Johnston said.

In addition to Dairy Queen, participants in the run will also enjoy door prizes from Chik-fil-A, Firehouse Subs, Jim ‘N Nick’s and many others.

However, it isn’t just corporate sponsors that will help make this event possible.

“It takes a lot of people to run a race like this,” said Johnston.

Johnston will need volunteers to help with registration, timing and water breaks throughout the course.

“If people will come and be a part of this run, it will help us give youth a safe place to run for shelter,” she said.

Runners of all ages can either compete in a 5k for $20 pre-registration ($25 on race day), or they can participate in a 1-mile Fun Run for $15 pre-registration ($20 on race day). Entry fees include a t-shirt, and medals will be awarded to overall male and female winners, as well as any runner younger than 14.

Anyone requesting more information or who are interested in volunteering can contact Johnston at shelbyyouth@charterinternet.com or by calling 664-CARE (2273), ext. 201.