Race Fun

Tom Cheffins recently participated in the Children’s Advocacy Alliance’s 12th annual Heroes for Hope Race, which moved to a virtual format last week in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was just last week the Children's Advocacy Alliance announced plans to move its 12th annual Heroes for Hope Race to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 crisis. 

The Log Cabin Democrat spoke with race officials on Thursday. 

Leia Smith, development coordinator, said they've already started receiving submissions. 

Changes in the 10K, 5K or 1.31K superhero fun run called for completion via treadmill, on a pre-measured course or with a distance tracking device with all runners required to take a before and after photo, submit their time and run prior to the 7 p.m. April 11 original race timeline.

Smith said Tom Cheffins, who has participated in the race for the past two years, submitted his photo the day after the virtual change was announced. 

"He is an absolute superhero for our kids," she said. 

Smith said they have submissions coming in continually, which she said race officials didn't expect. 

"I sure didn't," she said. "We thought folks would start running soon, but not this soon. I think when we first envisioned the virtual race we expected most people to wait and run on April 11, it's really amazing seeing people get their runs in this early ... talk about superheroes."

The why? 

"I think people want something to do to help the community, better themselves, and get active amid this social distancing," Smith said. "Social distancing is a huge culture shift from what we usually have in Conway. This community is tight-knit and it's hard not being around the folks you're used to seeing every day."

She said she thinks people are running early because they see it as an opportunity to re-connect with the community while practicing what they've been asked to do in keeping a distance from one another. 

"It's amazing to me how this community is so resilient," Smith said. "The drive to connect, be #ConwayStrong, and help each other runs deep."

Right now, 58 runners are signed up for the spring event, but Smith said most sign up on race day, bringing in 150 runners and 250 participants overall last year, raising $20,000, which came out to be 50 units of therapy, five forensic interviews and five medical exams for the at-risk children they serve in addition to five foster children receiving a CASA volunteer. 

"That's a huge impact," Smith said. "I am so thankful for our community and the resolve to help kids who need a superhero. Running in this race is making a choice to support child victims of abuse, which to me is one of the most valuable things anyone could ever do.

"If we have better childhood experiences, we know we will have better adult careers, home lives, and overall success."

She said it's all an investment in hope, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Choosing to give hope, to run, to do something for kids amid this pandemic shows how strong this community is," Smith said. "I'm proud to be a Conway citizen every day, but days like today, I'm a little extra proud." 

For questions about the virtual run, please contact Smith at lsmith@hopeandjustice.org.

Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached at handrews@thecabin.net

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