The East Lincoln High School boys and girls cross country teams hope to make their upcoming Valentine's 5K and couples run an annual event that raises money for the team and the community.
Race director Charles Whitley said it will offer a family-friendly land activity in a lake community that encourages people to be active. The Feb. 13 event for all ages will have a fun run, but it also is being held to showcase Denver's student and local running talent.
The boys team won the State 2A cross country title in 2009, but they did so in old, outdated uniforms, Whitley said. So, a portion of the proceeds will be used to buy new uniforms and help cover other team expenses. Any additional funds will be used for community outreach projects to help area families in need.
Whitley also hopes this event will serve as a venue for area runners to meet and form some sort of ongoing running club.
Meet an Olympian
New York transplant and retired Olympian Randy Will is a sponsor of the race.
The former bobsledder and cross country running coach recently moved to Denver, where he runs Nevole's Pizzeria. He will participate in the fun run with his wife and two kids.
A former member of the U.S.A. bobsled team, Will competed in three Winter Olympics and was the No. 1 ranked bobsledder in 1988, 1992 and 1994.
The Valentine's 5K takes place on the first day of competition for the Winter Olympics. Because he loves anything that has to do with competition, Will said he makes it a point to be a part of a some type sporting event around this time each year.
"This is a very special time for me because of what the Olympics means," he said. "So for those 16 days I have an Olympic flag hung on my house, because it means so much to me."
But his reasons for sponsoring the event run much deeper.
In March 2007 he and his two children were severely injured after a utility truck crashed into his car on N.C. 16. Will and his kids were airlifted and ended up with a slew of injuries, including a broken hip and jaw, brain injuries and pancreatic lacerations.
"The community nursed us back to health," he said. "They helped work at the restaurant, they made us meals and I have fond thoughts of everyone in the community who helped us out."
The event also could help reveal some undiscovered local talent.
"There's a kid out there in Denver right now who has the potential to somehow shock the world," Will said. "But it takes small club activities like this to inspire them. If you don't give them the opportunity, they won't have a chance. If you give the community an opportunity, they have all the chances in the world."