The Kennett Run: the inspiration of becoming involved
By Richard L. Gaw
Since its beginning in 1989, the annual Kennett Run has always been about two races. The first, held every May, is a colorful pageantry of spirit, competition and community pride. This year's Kennett Run drew more than 2,000 runners, families and volunteers who crossed finish lines, cheered their friends on, and worked tirelessly to make the annual event a huge success.
In the other Kennett Run race, there are no running shoes, no applause, no timing clocks and no after-the-race celebration at Anson B. Nixon Park. It is a 12-month orchestration of meetings, phone calls and correspondence between race organizers. It is the selfless enthusiasm of its hundreds of its volunteers and the kindness of its sponsors, all coming together for a common cause.
It is the part of the Kennett Run whose foundation is built on a simple sense of giving that seems to say, “We believe in what the Kennett Run is really all about, which is helping our neighbors year after year.”
Most importantly, the other Kennett Run is a race that has allowed hundreds of local organizations, groups and individuals to win races of their own – through a grant program established by Kennett Run Charities that has given more than $1 million in charitable contributions to the community it serves over the course of its 25 years.
“These grants help fund projects, programs and initiatives that in turn help hundreds of people in our community every year,” said Kennett Run President Matt Genereux. “It's always been the mission of Kennett Charities to direct all of our focus on the true purpose of the race – to help others – and it's made possible by the generosity of the more than two dozen sponsors, from large companies to Mom-and-Pop businesses. No matter the size or the nature of the business, there are no expectations of acknowledgment or recognition.”
The Tick Tock Learning Center in Avondale, a yearly recipient of a grant from Kennett Run Charities, recently celebrated its 50th year of service to the children and families of southern Chester County.
"We do a pre-school and a before-and-after-school program, and the grant we receive from Kennett Run Charities allows us to operate these programs on a daily basis," said Jackie Grunther, Tick Tock Learning Center's executive director, who is in her first year at the Center."The key thing I've seen in my time here is how wonderful the community has been to us, and and its great to see organizations like the Kennett Run support us."
The Kennett Run succeeds through the support of hundreds of volunteers, who assist in the preparation of the race, throughout the race itself, the after-party at Nixon Park and help to restore Kennett Square back to normal following the race.
"Take for instance, the Walk in Knowledge [WIN] volunteers, a group of 20 honors students from Kennett High School," Genereux said. "We couldn't have done this race without them. From preparation, registration and participation, the WIN program is just an example of people giving their time and energy back to their community."
While the foundation of the Kennett Run may be felt most by its sponsorships and its volunteers, its spirit of fun and activity is best seen in a constant flow of new additions to the event. This year's event was no exception, as more than 100 youngsters from the Kennett Consolidated School District took part in the first Fund Run. With added participation in the Fund Run coming from the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District next year, Race Director Nadiene Ringler-Friedrich anticipates that the number of participants in the next Fund Run could triple by 2015.
"Loretta Perna from the Kennett Consolidated School District and Christien Bass from the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District are working together to grow the Fund Run even more," Ringler-Friedrich said. "Last year, we scratched the surface, got an initial start and saw what worked to attract youngsters to the first event. Next year, we'll have a clearer path that will enable us to grow our participation."
In 2014, Family Practice Associates of Southern Chester County served as the sponsor of the fist Fund Run, and will again sponsor next year's race, and present two awards to Fund Run participants.
Next year's Kennett Run will also see the debut of a new race timer. Run the Day is the premier Chronotrack timing company in southeastern Pennsylvania, specializing in event management and timing services to the greater Philadelphia and surrounding areas. The company will offer race listing, results and online registration services at next year's Kennett Run, before and after the race.
The next Kennett Run will be its 26th running, and although it is more than six months away, the other race is currently being run. Recently, the Kennett Run grant recipients gathered for a night of thanks and celebration.
"We get to know personally about what these groups and agencies mean to our community," Genereux said. "The Kennett Run really is a 12-month event. It's not only the running of the race, but the running for the cause. It's the inspiration of becoming involved."
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.