Events calendars in the state’s largest cities are often littered with different seminars or public gatherings. As the weather warms, almost every weekend is host to a walking or running fundraiser of some sort.
Physicians, personal trainers, and even middle school gym teachers say it. Running is a healthy way to exercise. Doctor Jodi Scott in Sioux Falls is a longtime runner, and she’s lacing up her shoes for the Avera Race Against Breast Cancer.
"I run to reduce my risk factors for cancer, heart disease," Scott says. "It’s been amazing to watch; my kids have healthy, active grandparents. So I run because my goal is someday when I’m 80 years old to still run the Race Against Breast Cancer."
Scott’s mother is a breast cancer survivor, so she has a personal inspiration to go along with her passion for fitness. Missy Keiper coordinates the event, which includes 10K and 5K runs and two walks. The race draws thousands of participants and supporters.
"There’s obviously a lot of races that are in Sioux Falls that take place, and that’s great because obviously that’s good for the community," Keiper says. "Whatever that cause is, everybody can be involved, so that’s what’s great about having multiple runs."
“Multiple” may be an understatement. Sioux Falls fields dozens of applications for fundraising events throughout the year, and something’s on the calendar almost every weekend. Kelby Mieras is the Park Operations Manager for the city.
"We ask the event organizer to submit an event to us, us being the Special Event Committee which I said is made up of various city departments, and we go through the route with them, work to find if it’s on city streets, of course, the police department is heavily involved and what kind of support is available and do the best we can just to make sure they get the support that they need to make sure their event is safe and successful," Mieras says.
Many of the events require permits. Mieras says he’s seen an increase in the number of fundraisers scheduled, and established events grow larger every year. That means more city departments working together.
"It’s what we do. We consider ourselves a bit of a partner with all of these organizations as they put on their special events," Mieras says. "We welcome them into our public spaces to have these events, and, when we do that, we just want to make sure that the experience their participants have is enjoyable."
Making smooth work of logistics benefits the people who prepare for the walk and run fundraisers. Doctor – and runner – Jodi Scott says the community created at these events is unmatched.
"When it does come to race day, and you go out there you’re running with all those people and all those women, it is pretty amazing, and when you cross that finish line, it’s a good feeling," Scott says.
Images of women supporting women come to mind when envisioning past Race Against Breast Cancer events, but men shouldn’t fret. They’re welcome in Sioux Falls, or, Rapid City’s Mary Corbine says, they can travel West River for a unique stampede.
"It’s called Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, and the Walk a Mile in her shoes is for guys to walk in red, high heel shoes," Corbine says.
They perch in heels to show solidarity against domestic violence. People also find themselves lounging for the cause. They also have a couch potato section; people can raise money to relax instead of run.
Corbine is the executive director of WAVI, which stands for Working Against Violence, Inc. The lighthearted take on a high-heeled walk and the couch potato option are only elements of the overall event to fight violence; it also includes a more traditional walk and 5K run.
"We do get a lot of people who come and want to support WAVI and bring awareness to domestic violence and sexual assault. There’s a lot of people who come because, in one way or another, this has affected their lives and it’s important for them to come and walk and show awareness and support us," Corbine says. "And we do get a lot of runners who keep track of their times and who use the 5Ks to qualify for other events, you know, marathons and whatnot."
Corbine says she welcomes those runners who show up for the sole purpose of running, because support on any level is meaningful. That’s how Missy Keiper in Sioux Falls views participants, too.
"Obviously as a runner, there are many different courses you can run, and every one is a different challenge. So for some, I think that’s kind of why they want to come and experience it," Keiper says. "Then I think for the other half, it really is about that purpose of breast cancer or any kind of cancer and being there to support whoever was going through that journey or to celebrate the life of someone that had been lost."
The Sioux Falls and Rapid City coordinators agree: just by being at the events, everyone is helping to raise awareness of the causes. With each race, Doctor Jodi Scott manifests that dual purpose for signing up.
"As a runner, I go out and run in honor of the people who have suffered through chemotherapy or who have lost their life or lost a loved one," Scott says. "In doing that, you know that you’re also helping other people, other survivors, other people who will eventually be diagnosed with the disease, as well."
Scott says drawing in participants with different goals also increases education because it reminds people that running can be an important facet of wellness. That brings everyone involved in any of the walk or run fundraisers to a healthy finish.
Both the Avera Race Against Breast Cancer in Sioux Falls and the walk/run that benefits WAVI in Rapid City happen Saturday, May 11. Each raises money that stays local to help people in the communities.
25th Annual Avera Race Against Breast Cancer in Sioux Falls
WAVI Peace Pro-Motion and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes events in Rapid City