When runners participate in the Cowtown Marathon, they are helping thousands of children get new running shoes as well as grants to register for the Cook Children’s 5K.
This year, more than 5,000 pair of shoes will be distributed under the Children’s Activities for Life and Fitness program operated by the nonprofit Cowtown Marathon organization.
On Monday, representatives went to High Country Elementary School in Saginaw, where 48 students tried on running shoes as they continued preparing for the children’s 5K, one of the Cowtown Marathon events that begin Feb. 27.
“The children just don’t get the shoes. It’s a commitment to train. The whole idea is to get kids set on a path to fitness,” said Heidi Swartz, executive director of the Cowtown.
Entry fees from runners participating in the Cowtown Marathon help fund the C.A.L.F program.
Swartz said staff and volunteers will visit 85 schools and community centers in 15 school districts throughout January and February to give children their running shoes.
Cowtown staff members and volunteers start visiting community centers and schools in September, working with children before or after school or during P.E. and also go to running clubs.
Children learn about healthy eating habits and commit to exercising consistently two to three times a week, she said. They receive pedometers and learn to check their resting heart rates.
Swartz said coaches at schools and community centers apply for the grants and shoes on behalf of the children, and sometimes parents apply.
Years ago, the nonprofit group only provided the money for fees, but organizers soon found the young runners were suffering from blisters and sore feet because they didn’t have the right shoes. So in 2006 the Cowtown gave out 500 pair of shoes in addition to $3,500 in grants.
Giving increased every year — last year, 3,300 students received shoes.
Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696
The Cowtown Marathon
In 2014, 26,338 runners participated in the Cowtown Marathon, 6,558 of them in the Cook Children’s 5K.
This year, 29,000 runners are expected to participate in the race’s 37th year.