Runners in the Spirit Run celebrated its 22nd year Sunday with more
than 6,000 attendees, including more than 4,000 who joined the races.
The event, held at Fashion Island, was founded 22 years ago by the
mother of a Harbor View Elementary School student to unify
fundraising efforts of local elementary schools.
And it continues to do so, raising an average of $100,000 to split between Andersen, Eastbluff, Harbor View, Lincoln and Newport Coast
Racers could run, walk or jog a 5K or a 10K, and there were eight
one-mile youth races divided up into age groups. There was even a
toddler trot for the wee ones, some of whom could barely walk.
The schools use the money differently, applying it to whatever
they see fit.
Each school earns a different amount, depending on its fundraising
efforts and registration numbers.
"Last year, we got around $12,000," said Newport Coast Principal
Monique Van Zeebroeck, who ran the 10K and the 5K.
The money the school receives will go toward music, art and
physical education programs, the things that are often deemed extra,
Andersen Elementary Principal Mary Manos said her school is always
grateful for the funds raised, especially since state budget cuts
have reduced funding for regular programs.
Although the schools need the money and the fundraising aspect is
important for the community, many of the Spirit Run organizers and
participants are grateful for an event that promotes healthy
competition and fitness.
"I just love to be out here because it's so good for the kids to
have a family fitness event like this," said Andersen Elementary
kindergarten and first-grade teacher Brenda Colgate. Colgate said she
runs the 5K every year. "Maybe next year I'll do the 10K -- when I
Newport Coast's Nick Rose, who runs the race with his daughters,
said it's good for children to see the benefits of healthy
competition and exercise.
Honorary race director Steve Scott said seeing the kids crossing
the finish line is his favorite part of the race each year.
Scott, a UC Irvine alumnus and a three-time Olympian known for
running the mile in under 4 minutes, runs with the kids and helps
keep them organized.
"The greatest thing is you see kids being physically active," he
said. "Their diet is going to be what it's going to be, but what they
need is more exercise."
Event organizer Kathy Kinane said the Spirit Run is valuable to
members of the community and the families who participate.
"With obesity becoming such a major problem with America's youth,"
Kinane said, "seeing families out here being healthy and active is
the most important part of this event."