The YoungLives Thanksgiving 5K is running for the next generation.
Butler County’s only Thanksgiving Day 5k is back again for its eighth year on November 24th! What began as a fun way to support our local teen moms, launched into an annual event our community continues to outgrow. 2015, the inaugural year for the Hamilton YoungLives Thanksgiving 5k brought only a few dozen people to run/walk a 3.1 mile race around the Historic Highland Park streets. But within four years, the race surpassed the size of the neighborhood and moved to Downtown Hamilton’s Marcum Park to accommodate over 1,000 participants. Every year since, sponsorships, attendees, volunteers and the fundraising goal have all increased. To date, over $100,000 has been raised through the 5k! “This race is so important because most of our moms consider Hamilton home. So to know that the community wants to rally around these sweet young ladies and their children, whom they’ve never met, says a lot to them. Even the amount of dollars raised helps them to feel seen and known in a unique way.” - Kamie Dixon, race committee and YoungLives Staff.
So, what is YoungLives you may ask? “It is a non-denominational ministry for teen moms or pregnant teens up to the age of 19. It is part of the greater, national organization, Young Life. In this ministry, there are adult women who serve as mentors for pregnant or parenting teens in the community. Being part of the YoungLives organization allows for these young women to build positive peer relationships and have ongoing, reliable support from their mentors. The mentors meet these girls where they are in life and walk beside them. Once a month, the girls and their babies are provided with a dinner. After dinner, childcare is provided to allow the moms to have a break from parenting and be able to interact with one another through games or crafts. This ministry impacts a very vulnerable and valuable population. It is a joy for mentors to enter the lives of these young ladies and serve as a source of support and hope. In March of 2011, Hamilton YoungLives started with their first meeting and has been growing since - reaching more and more teen moms encouraging them to become the women and mothers God created them to be. The need for YoungLives is great, and the potential is even greater! Together we can transform generations.” - Kristin Kwiat, 5k race committee and co-founder of Hamilton YoungLives.
The Thanksgiving 5k is a distinctive way to honor teenage moms participating in YoungLives, while raising funds to take care of them in many physical and spiritual ways. Part of the money raised goes towards a paid part time staff position to oversee the Hamilton YoungLives group which currently includes 16 teen moms, 24 children and 5 adult mentors! Money also goes towards the cost of going to summer camp, monthly meetings, and as-needed items like car seats, diapers, meals, etc. However, a chunk of the funds goes towards the actual cost of the race. It takes over $25,000 to put on a local race for almost 2,000 people - if you can believe it! Between custom medals, sweatshirts, park rental, printing, website and design costs it can add up quickly. “Our local businesses contribute so much. Some businesses are 5k sponsors, some donate prizes for our top finishers, and others are open on Thanksgiving day to help serve the people who come in from all over Butler County as well as the country. It’s a wide range of people supporting our local race. I’ll get a notification of who signed up, sometimes it will be two from Hamilton, then two will be from Texas and so on. And I pray for each person who signs up.” - Katie Powers, Race Director.
Small businesses are instrumental to the success of the 5k. Local design and remodel company, Meyer Brothers and Sons, recently committed to the 2022-2024 Title Sponsorship! Bethart Printing has been a consistent spot to print the beautiful fliers designed by Lemon Grenade. And then, that design is hand printed on an Unsung Salvage super-comfortable sweatshirt for every 5k attendee. If you’ve already been to the Thanksgiving 5k, you know just how many people it takes to have a successful event. But if you haven’t had the chance to attend, imagine over 150 volunteers who assemble race bags, corral the kids’ fun run, control parking, help runners navigate the race course, clean up trash, and much more. Even so, a majority of the work happens before race day where the race committee, composed of 8 men and women, meet monthly to delegate tasks and prepare for the annual race. These committed volunteers have been known to take off the month of December and get right back into 5k planning mode the first of the year.
A staple in Hamilton, The YoungLives Thanksgiving Day 5k is a favorite event of the year for many families (including mine!). Make sure you’re signed up to run or even volunteer so you can join thousands of people in Downtown Hamilton to support our young mothers and the future generation.