The people of the Kennett Run: J.J. Simon
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
The 27th annual Kennett Run will be held on May 14 in Kennett Square, and the Chester County Press will be on hand with complete coverage of the annual event. In the weeks leading up to the race, we will be focusing on a few of the many people whose dedication to the Kennett Square community has helped make the Kennett Run more than just a race. This week, we sit down with J.J. Simon, the new race director for the Kennett Run.
Chester County Press: One of the misconceptions about the Kennett Run is that the Party in the Park – held at Anson B. Nixon Park at the conclusion of the competition – is only open to competitors, their families, and sponsors. That's not really the case, is it?
Simon: I would like to encourage the runners to bring their families and friends out to the park for some fun, food and entertainment, but I would also encourage the community to come out as well. This year, Two Stones Pub will be providing beer. Music will be performed by Shady Groove. The members of a lot of our service fraternities will be serving pizza and bagels. Bananas, apples and oranges are being donated from the Giant supermarket. Sweet Christine's will provide gluten-free baked goods. A variety of snacks will be coming from Herr's Foods. The Flying Club at the New Garden Flying Field will be giving kids a flight simulator, to give them a sense of what it's like to be in a cockpit. Terry's Critters will be there, as well.
So by having more of the community at the Party in the Park...
Simon: Because it's a charity event, the more people who are involved, the more competitors we may be able to generate for future events, and subsequently, more potential funding for the many services and organizations Kennett Run Charities supports.
This year, Kennett Run Charities will be sponsoring Shady Groove's performance.
Simon: Eventually, we want to find a group or organization to pay for the musical entertainment in the Party in the Park, as a way to lower the costs of Kennett Run Charities, to allow us to increase the money we can disperse to the community.
The Party in the Park is a big “Thank You” to the entire Kennett Square community, especially for the many volunteers who make the Kenett Run the success it has become. Is it too late for those who wish to help in this year's event to sign up?
Simon: No, not at all. We'd love to have them. They can contact us by visiting our website (www.kennettrun.com). The schools are already participating. We need volunteers for the day before the event, to help set up the Party in the Park. We need them for water tables, to help with timing throughout the course. Right now, we still need about 30 or 40, and every one who volunteers gets a T-shirt.
Anyone who has ever competed in the Kennett Run has received a tremendous amount of support along the course. Every year, it's lined with people from Kennett Square neighborhoods, who come out and cheer them on. What are some of the hottest spots along the course to watch the races?
Simon: At the bottom of the Kennett Square Country Club, around Walnut Street, is a great spot, because that's where the 5K and 10K come toward their last mile before the finish. In the park itself, there is a long strip where they can watch the runners do their final sprint.
The Kennett Run would not be possible without the work of its volunteers. Every year, they do so many tasks and don't get enough credit for the work they do.
Simon: Loretta Perna from Kennett High School is a powerhouse, helping so many children get to college. She has translated the Kennett Run registration form from English to Spanish, because she discovered that the children who want to compete in the race, would take the forms home, but their parents often could not understand what the form is saying. We've re-formatted the registration form to Spanish and sent it to several schools who have a high Spanish-speaking population. In the next year, we will increase the awareness of our Spanish community of the Kennett Run by translating more information to Spanish.