By Dawn Hatfield
GREENVILLE — The blue skies and temperate weather appeared made-to-order as racers poured into Greenville City Park to support local non-profit organizations in the annual Darke County Foundation SUNshine 5K run/walk on Saturday morning.
With nearly 400 racers this year, one could find participants of all ages, from babies hitching a free ride in their strollers to active senior citizens, strolling along at a leisurely pace. Some participants were even seen running on four legs! Several racers commented on the beauty of the surroundings and the new course that was redesigned in 2020 to wind through much of Greenville City Park and over the swinging bridge.
Countless volunteers and sponsors of the race helped to provide T-shirts, drinks, cookies, swag bags, and an outpouring of motivation to participants. Reid Health, Wayne Healthcare, Premier Health, Family Health, Speelman Creative, The Daily Advocate/Early Bird, and Ray and Bettye Laughlin were among top sponsors. As the countdown clock sped towards the official start time, special thanks were also given to the City of Greenville, Greenville Police Department, Greenville Township Rescue, and Greenville High School Athletic Department for their help in coordinating a safe and fun 5K.
Starting near Avenue “F” on Harmon Drive, the course turned down Avenue “B,” then “A,” and over to Garst Avenue past the museum. The sun shone brightly along the bike path that wound back to Wilson Drive. Runners then crossed over the swinging bridge, nearly half-way finished with the course. Memorial Drive led racers over to Park Avenue, along another portion of the bike trail, back to Wilson and finally up Avenue “B” to turn again onto Harmon and see the welcome relief of the finish line!
The top three overall individual winners of the Sunshine 5K were as follows:
1. Stephen Sartoris, age 26, of West Manchester, running for Team AddieGirl
2. Calen Bruner, age 26, of Greenville, running for Team DeColores Montessori School
3. Carson Bruner, age 23, of Greenville, running for Team DeColores Montessori School
The following teams took the top three spots:
2. DeColores Montessori School
3. Bridges 2 College
First place team, Team AddieGirl, is a local group with a very active presence in all the local races. The team’s Facebook page tells their story. “Team AddieGirl was formed out of love. Our priority from the start was to form a team at each of these races to show Addison [Henderson] and her family that we are all gathering to support her in her journey and battle with Leukemia. Amazingly, with each race this team kept growing as people would ask, ‘What is Team AddieGirl about?’ We would share the story of the Hendersons and their 6-year-old daughter being diagnosed with Leukemia just days after Addison did the kids run at the Mandy Green 5K in 2012. We all can only imagine how this would change our lives if it would be our family. We have never placed winning as a top priority… in this challenge other than as a team showing Addison that ‘winning’ this battle with Leukemia is our goal as well as [hers].”
In second place, Team DeColores Montessori School, is a chartered non-public school for grades K-9 and a certified Ohio Department of Education Pre-School and Day Care provider in Greenville. Their website expresses their mission. “Our goals are for the students to be open-minded and compassionate; to gain a sense of themselves and others; and to understand and appreciate the diversity of the human spirit. Our students are well-trained in the basic academic disciplines, while fulfilling their creative, physical, emotional, social and cognitive potential.”
Team Bridges 2 College, coming in at third place recognizes “the journey from high school to college can be tough – especially if a student is the first in his or her family to go to college. Bridges to College makes it easier by providing educational programming, advising, and needs-based scholarships to high school students.” Bridges 2 College is a non-profit organization based in Greenville that provides services to Ansonia, Franklin Monroe and Greenville High School students and their parents and “believes that educated citizens are the basis of a prosperous local economy and are the foundation of the future high quality of life in Darke County.”
Numerous class divisions afforded several additional winners. Runner Tammy Watts was “very inspired” by the fierce competition. This was her first time competing in the SUNshine 5K after recently moving back to Darke County from California. She said she loved the course, and it was “a really beautiful place to run in, the Greenville City Park.” She had raced in the Angel Run 5K last year and wanted to better her time, which she did by placing third on Saturday in her class of women aged 45 to 49. Tammy stated she ran in a “tough division” but said that even in more advanced age classes than her own, she was seeing racers who finished a 24-minute 5K. Tammy’s son, A.J. Watts, matched his mother for a third-place win of his own in the boys’ 15 to 19 age division.
Denise Shaffer, who ran with her son, Jason, as part of Team Edison Foundation, had this to say, “We decided to do it because it was for a good cause, the Edison Foundation, and some of my fellow co-workers were doing it. Plus, it is always nice to go outside and walk, meet new people, and explore new places. That was the first time I had been to Greenville — it was a beautiful park; my son was even impressed by the park, and he enjoyed himself as well. It was a good time!”
Dr. Richard Hanes, Executive Director of The Edison Foundation, had this to share, “We have enjoyed participating in the Darke County Foundation SUNshine 5K for five years with this year being our largest participation with 38 individuals! The college included the 2021 SUNshine 5K as part of our employee wellness program along with The Edison Foundation being a beneficiary. The mission of The Edison Foundation is to assist Edison State Community College in meeting its educational and community service goals by providing resources to advance student success. This is accomplished through scholarships, student emergency assistance, employee mini-grants, and capital improvements. Since its establishment in 1993, The Edison Foundation has provided over two million dollars in student scholarships and millions of dollars in capital improvements. This year we once again had a great time being out in the Greenville community enjoying a great 5K, camaraderie and fellowship with our friends and supporters in an event focused on many great causes!”
For a complete list of individual and team results, please see GTraces.com. Hundreds of race photos are available on Facebook by visiting the Darke County Wellness Challenge page. To register for future Darke County Wellness Challenge races, visit www.darkecountywellnesschallenge.com/calendar-registration.htm.
To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Dawn Hatfield email [email protected]