By Lenora Kruk-Mullanaphy

The Healthy Kids Running Series (HKRS) focuses on motivating kids to lead healthy, active lifestyles through the world of running. When founder and president of Pattison Sports Group Jeff Long, a collegiate runner and sports marketing expert, created HKRS in 2009, his goal was to combat the increasing rate of childhood obesity in the nation. The running program was developed around a funfilled environment that instills confidence.

A national and community-based nonprofit organization, Healthy Kids Running Series offers a five-week running series for children between ages 2 and 14. Its objective is to help kids become active, feel a sense of accomplishment and build a foundation for a healthy lifestyle.  The program has blossomed to more than 60,000 youth runners in 300-plus community locations across the country.

Cassie Kelly, series coordinator for Stafford, organizes the race series, securing sponsors to help to create an exciting event for runners and their families.

“I’ve organized Stafford County Fire & Rescue members to attend and present medals to our runners on week five for the last two seasons,” says Kelly. “I encourage every runner to believe in themselves and give their best-possible run.”

The HKRS features spring and fall programs with age-appropriate race distances where kids compete to earn points. The boy and girl with the most points in their age divisions earn trophies, and all participants receive a finisher’s medal, race bag and HKRS t-shirt.

The spring 2020 event is at Willowmere Park at Stafford Courthouse from Sunday, April 19 through Sunday, May 17. Sponsors include Atlantic Builders, Mathnasium of Stafford, HIGH Fit Stafford, the Lucky Road Run Shop, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Wawa, Irish Butterflies Photography, Prince William Ice Center, Sesame Street in Communities, Sweet Frog, Card My Yard, the Nelson Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Realty, and Fredericksburg Parent & Family magazine.

For more information, email hkrsstafford@gmail.com, check Facebook for updates, or visit the website at www.healthykidsrunningseries.org.