UT Athletics to host 14th annual Marathon Kids Kick Off Celebration Saturday morning
Oct. 7, 2010
AUSTIN, Texas -- Thousands of Central Texas area children and their parents will converge on the track at Mike A. Myers Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 9 to participate in the 14th annual Marathon Kids Kick Off Celebration. Students in kindergarten through fifth-grade and their parents will ceremonially begin running or walking 26.2 miles in increments of a quarter-mile to a half-mile at a time over a six-month period.
There will be two sessions of the Kick Off event, one at 9 a.m. (Central) for all Austin ISD children and the second at 11 a.m. for children from all other participating Central Texas school districts. The event is free and parking is free in the Manor Garage (PG5 garage), attached to Myers Stadium.
The nationally-acclaimed free program is expecting 20,000 children, parents, siblings, extended family, teachers and community runners to be at the celebration. Last year, there were 70,132 registered Central Texas Marathon Kids who achieved at least an 86% completion rate.
UT women's track and field head coach Bev Kearney has been involved with the Marathon Kids program since its inception and is the point person responsible for the event taking place on The University's campus. Hundreds of UT athletics staff, coaches and student-athletes will volunteer their time during Saturday's event. This marks the 11th year that UT Athletics has played host to the kick off event.
"Marathon Kids is symbolic of our desire to have a unified community that is fit and fun, and that is what Marathon Kids accomplishes," Kearney said. "The kids who participate have a ball, along with those that are helping. It's also a blast to watch the parents exercise with their kids.
"Our student-athletes who take part are provided an amazing opportunity to bond with each other as well as the kids," Kearney continued. "You really have to be a part of it to truly understand just how special an event it is. Everyone who participates really looks forward to doing it again."
The target market for the program is children who are most vulnerable to sedentary lives and type 2 diabetes. In addition to the fitness portion of the program, Marathon Kids also challenges the participating children to eat five fruits and vegetables a day for 26.2 days of every month.
Marathon Kids is a 15-year-old non-profit organization that began as an Austin grassroots initiative. It is now in Austin, Dallas, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Chicago. There are an estimated 200,000 children now participating in the free Marathon Kids program, and there are over 300 towns in cities along with 14 foreign countries on the program's waiting list.
Aside from the health benefits, the participating families get to experience the University of Texas. "The beautiful part of having this event at UT is that our children and parents have the opportunity to be on a college campus - something they may never have experienced before," Founder and Executive Director of Marathon Kids Kay Morris, said. "It starts making the parents and kids believe that one day they can get to college."
The Marathon Kids program is free because of funding from Organic Valley, Rogue Running, PECU (Public Employees Credit Union), Akin, Chardavoyne & England LLC., and other corporate sponsors. Major funding is provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, The Meadows Foundation, The Moody Foundation and The RGK Foundation. This year's presenting sponsor is Whole Foods Market. The Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living also is conducting a research study of Marathon Kids.
Families with questions about Marathon Kids should visit the organization's web site (www.MarathonKids.org) or ask their school's physical education teacher about participation. If you are a teacher and interested in receiving a Teacher Packet for the 2010-11 school year, please email Marinda Reynolds at Marinda@MarathonKids.org. For more information about the Marathon Kids program, please email Kay Morris at Kay@MarathonKids.org.