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Race to feed homebound seniors

Runners of all ages encouraged to sign up for 5K run to benefit homebound seniors

Posted: September 20, 2009 9:50 p.m.
Updated: September 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Runners of all ages will participate in the 18th annual Kiwanis Club of Santa Clarita Six Flags Magic Mountain 5K Run on Oct. 4. The event benefits the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center's home-delivered meals program, which serves approximately 350 hot meals each weekday to homebound seniors.

 

Two valuable activities - running and supporting our community's most frail seniors - will join forces on Sunday, Oct. 4, when the 18th annual Kiwanis Club of Santa Clarita Six Flags Magic Mountain 5K Run takes place.

Beginning at 8 a.m. with a warm-up at 7 a.m., the proceeds will benefit the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center's home delivered meals program, which serves approximately 350 hot and nutritious meals each weekday to homebound seniors across our valley.

With Princess Cruises as its title sponsor, the event's honorary chair will be world champion runner and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix, who in late August garnered more gold and glory in Berlin during the 12th World Track & Field Championships.

"I'm so excited to be taking part in this Kiwanis 5K," said Felix, a Santa Clarita Valley resident. "There are a number of seniors involved in my life who have had an amazing impact on me and I'm thrilled that this event benefits the SCV Senior Center. I had a great time last year and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone come out and support this great cause!"

Students, coaches, families, businesses, friends, neighbors, religious organization members and anyone else from within or beyond this community are encouraged to don their running shoes for the 5K, said Brad Berens, Senior Center executive director.

"This is the greatest intergenerational event of all time, one where everyone can enjoy themselves while making a world of difference for the lives of our frail and homebound seniors," said Berens, who is at the helm of the Senior Center and SCV Committee on Aging along with longtime board members committed to the welfare of our elderly. "The camaraderie, noble mission and sheer fun of it all create an outstanding way to spend a Sunday."

Berens lauded Allyson Felix for finding time in her busy schedule to support the 5K, and in turn, home-delivered meal services.

"Allyson is a world-class and world-traveling athlete, and we are so grateful that she has found it in her heart and schedule to support the Senior Center again this year through the 5K," he said. "This young woman is amazing. Devoted to family, community, good health, education, humanism and always doing her best in everything she does, Allyson is the stuff that real role models are made of."

Berens recalled how at last year's 5K, scores of young runners flocked around Felix, eager to get their photos snapped with the sports star and chat. "She was a hit with the crowd, but more than that, her presence provided a visual testament to all youth, showing them where their futures can take them when they apply determination, passion and solid work to their dreams," Berens said.

Pre-event 5K registration fees are $25 for adults, $15 for high school students and $10 for junior high students - with commemorative T-shirts given to the first 500 pre-registered participants. On race day, prices will remain the same but availability of T-shirts is not guaranteed. (Pre-registration is strongly encouraged.)

Also included that day, all registered participants will receive a post-run admission to the park and parking. That's a savings of about $70.00 per participant.

"This is a terrific deal and a great way to help Kiwanis support our valley's seniors," said Bob Endress, who is co-coordinating the 5K with fellow Kiwanian Bob Glenn.

Endress noted that Kiwanis is the oldest service group in the Santa Clarita Valley, having begun in 1924.

The Santa Clarita Kiwanis group is actually one of about 8,000 clubs in 96 countries. Currently, there are approximately 260,000 adult Kiwanis members and 320,000 youths worldwide.

"Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time," Endress said.

According to Glenn, the Kiwanis efforts include revitalizing neighborhoods, organizing youth sports programs, mentoring the disadvantaged, raising funds for pediatric research, building playgrounds, feeding those who are hungry, sheltering the homeless and performing countless other projects to help children and communities.

"The term ‘Kiwanis' is actually coined from an Indian expression, ‘Nunc Kee-wanis,' and means ‘we trade' or ‘we share our talents,'" Glenn said.

Senior Center Supportive Services Care Manager, Karin Kelly, feels that home-delivered meals bring much more to recipients than nutrition - they are really "food for the soul."

"I go into these homes and regularly see the people who receive the meals. The majority is in poor health and of low income, and distressed about living alone, particularly amid their circumstances. Many of them don't have family around," Kelly said.

Meal recipients are very appreciative and often remark that the program has improved their life.

"They know they're receiving at least one hot, balanced meal per day and that gives them some much-needed peace of mind," she said. "For some people, the friendly visit from their home-delivered meal driver is the only human contact they'll have all day."

Studies have demonstrated that home-delivered meal programs help keep seniors living in their own homes longer, Berens said.

"That means greater independence, dignity, and holding off early institutionalism, which almost always leads to physical and mental decline," he said.

He also hailed Kiwanis in its SCVSC-friendly mission.

"We are extremely grateful to Kiwanis for coordinating this 5K year after year with the Senior Center. Their support and great efforts help us continue to provide programs and services that enhance the lives of thousands of seniors," Berens said.

Local sponsor Six Flags Magic Mountain also deserves tremendous praise, Berens said, noting the globally popular amusement park has been a longtime Senior Center supporter.

"Once again, Magic Mountain has opened its doors to us and demonstrated their concern for our elders," Berens said. "We are so fortunate to have them in this community."

Sponsors of the 5K also include: Canyon Country Seniors; Bouquet Canyon Seniors; Castaic Lake Senior Village; LSC Construction; Wells Fargo of California Insurance Services; Ted Rafalovich and family; Connie Worden-Roberts; Dave Davis Plastering, Inc.; John and Ann Unger; Neal and Diane Green; Don Kimball and Family; Teksmart; Greg McWilliams and family; Bob Di Primo and family; Santa Clara Valley Bank; Castaic Lake Water Agency; Oliver Products; Antelope Valley Community Clinic; Green Hassan & Janks LLP; Gilbert Mena Miniatures: Fine Art & Furniture; and Snapple.

Businesses are encouraged to become sponsors of the run and help our community's most frail citizens.

"Sponsorship provides excellent means for supporting the Senior Center while helping the community know who you are, what you offer, and how much you care about our seniors," Berens said.

He also asks that people be as generous as they possibly can.

"We know these are difficult times, but we also know that our seniors depend on us," Berens said. "Together we can form a circle of care that makes the Santa Clarita Valley one of the most ‘elder-friendly' communities in this nation."

For further information and entry, sponsorship and liability release forms visit www.scvsc.org.

You may also contact (661) 259-9444 ext. 140; or e-mail kiwanis5K@yahoo.com; or go to www.active.com (then type "Magic Mountain"). Magic Mountain opens at 6 a.m. day of event; registration begins at 6:30 a.m. Awards to be given out at end of race.

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