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The elite runners and Olympians often grab the headlines at the CVS Health Downtown 5K, but the event - in its 27th year - now includes a lot of runners you may not have seen on the news: from toddlers to high schoolers and a race designed specifically for kids with disabilities. This month Jim Hummel goes behind the scenes, to talk with a group that has run every year since the race began in 1990 and one of the organizers who talks about how the day is geared specifically to health.
Click here for more information about the CVS Health Downtown 5K.
This is the scene most of us watch unfold on the 6 o’clock news every year. Thousands of runners - and walkers - taking off on a Sunday in mid-September for the CVS Downtown 5K. The race also features elite runners, with a handful of Olympians occasionally sprinkled in.
But what you may not see is this side of the event: races for kids of all ages and abilities: From those who can barely walk right on up to middle and high school age. And one of the most poignant parts of the day: The All Kids Can race that sends this message:
Eileen: ``We support children with disabilities and we thought every opportunity we want to be inclusive.’’
CVS Health Senior Vice President Eileen Howard Boone says the All Kids Can event, which began in 2007, has become one of the more popular races leading up to the signature 5K, which this year had more than 6,000 participants.
Eileen: ``So if you think about this race in particular, we have elite athletes, Olympians, we’ve got kids from K-12 really, and this was an opportunity for them to participate as well. Because this is really a family event, even though we have these superior athletes this is a family event.’’
And getting ready for her turn: 10-year old Kalianna Herrera, with her mother Jenna. The Herreras heard about the race through Meeting Street School, where Kali is a 4th-grader. We caught up with then right after the race.
Jenna: ``So being involved in something like this is like her being able to go to a birthday party. It’s being included and it’s really important. She was a little nervous, she didn’t know what was going on. Then I think once she got started, she got to see what everybody doing it, she got excited.’’
And just like the elite runners Kali and the others were treated to a cheering crowd lining the race course in front of the Providence Place Mall.
Jenna: ``It’s exciting to see people that aren’t scared of her. Because a lot of people they look at wheelchairs and the don’t know what to say or how to react. They just think oh they can’t do it, they can’t do anything. But they can, they’re so much more than just a chair. It’s exciting to see people clapping for her and see oh yeah, just cause they’re in a wheelchair they’re stuck.’’
Eileen: ``It’s really one of my favorite parts of the downtown 5K because it’s an opportunity for the kids to achieve. They train for months beforehand. They really get involved in it. They love the medal, they love the t-shirt they get to compete in the Downtown 5K. So it’s a really special moment for the kids, the parents and us.’’