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Freedom’s Run volunteers made 2009 inaugural event very successful

By Staff | Oct 30, 2009

We have been overwhelmed by the kind emails thanking the wonderful volunteers and friendly welcome our guests received who visited us for Freedom’s Run on Oct. 3. We would not have been able to pull this off without the help of each and every one of you. What we all witnessed Oct. 3 was an extreme collaborative effort from a community: Shepherd University students and faculty, National Park rangers, local citizens, businesses, elected officials from two states, police and EMS, and an extremely passionate all-volunteer race organizing committee. We thank you, the over 300 volunteers who helped make this a huge success. Our community welcomed over 1600 runners from 36 states.

A testimonial to your efforts is the answer to one of the questions we sent out in a post race online survey. We have over 400 responses in the first week. We asked: “Do you plan to return/would you encourage others to visit our region/participate?”. The Response is 93 percent yes, 6 percent maybe, and only 1% no. Another powerful result was from the first question: “Overall how would you rate the Inaugural Freedom’s Run event?” On a 1-5 scale with 5 being the best- 70 percent gave this 5 and 25 percent gave it a 4. Amazingly for a first year event- 95 percent of our participants were either Very Satisfied (the large majority) or Satisfied with the event.

We promoted a couple themes during the event. Our youth especially are at risk of losing their sense of “place”- that true understanding of the richness of the land we live on. Historian and environmentalist Wallace Stenger penned: “if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” In a 1961 conference of Physical Activity and Youth, John F. Kennedy observed: “We do not want in the United States a nation of spectators. We want a nation of participants in the vigorous life. This is not a matter which can be settled, of course, from Washington. It is really a matter which starts with each individual family” For those who live in West Virginia and share its sense of “place”, the family extends to the community. You (the community) are helping reattach our youth and families to this rich land in an active endeavor.

We also raised funds and awareness for Roots and Shoots, a local initiative to build learning gardens at local schools; Tiger on the Trail, an initiative that aims to introduce local students to their National Park trails; The Eastern Area Health Education Center, serving the health education needs of our region; and Washington’s Way West Heritage Alliance, working towards establishing the region as a National Heritage Area.

Freedom’s Run brought a “green” theme to the race too thanks to the work of Karen Valentine and Go Green Gals. We recycled and composted almost everything. We learned valuable lessons this year to make the event even better for 2010. We hope you will join us again as a participant or volunteer. What we want to give everyone in this community is an opportunity to do something that has little cost, will present a healthy challenge, and be a spark to change lifestyle for the better. For our youth this is nothing short of a movement for the active life. We aim to build a series of youth runs through the year involving local farms and parks with Freedom’s Run being the goal event.

Mark Cucuzzella & Lois Turco

Freedom’s Run Co-Founders