Seventh grader, Haley Roth, was just eight years old when she asked her parents if she could coordinate her own race.
“I’d just seen my mom run a 5K and thought it would be fun to run my own as a service project.” Haley explained.
Haley and her family attend the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints in Otsego and her youth group had a list of things for students to accomplish before age 12. One of those items on the list was “plan and complete your own activity to serve others.”
“My parents tried to direct me to smaller activities like writing letters to grandparents or helping my sisters with chores but I really wanted to do a race.” Haley said.
Haley finally got her parents to agree with the idea it would be just a one year thing. Five years later and she’s still going strong.
The first four years Haley’s race raised funds for St. Jude but this year the $594 she raised went somewhere different.
Proceeds from this year’s donations were split between the Children’s Cancer Research Fund, in memory of Cody Hernandez and Pancan.org/American Refugee Committee, in memory of Nathan Cogrove.
Haley doesn’t charge a registration fee so that anyone, including young children, can participate in the race. The actual course is about a mile and there’s typically a shorter fun run set up for young kids. “If we charged a registration fee, it would deter some of my friends from being able to participate,” she said.
Haley coordinates the set up, the signs, the registration and even race day operations all on her own. “I’m the driver,” her mom said laughing. This year’s race took place on a sunny October Saturday and had close to 70 people in attendance.
“I always loved the idea, I just was nervous it would be more work for us than it would be for her but she’s always taken ownership,” explained Haley’s mom, Laura.
So much ownership that she’s already thinking there will be a 6th annual event next fall.
“It’s a lot of hard work but it’s for a great cause and I really enjoy doing it,” Haley said.