The Amherst Striders have contributed the proceeds from their Valentine's Run to groups supporting youth athletics.
AMHERST – Various community groups that work with young people were the beneficiaries of the proceeds from the Amherst Striders’ first Valentine’s Run in February.
Run organizers came together representatives of the West Highlands School Enhancement project, the Cumberland YMCA and the Town of Amherst to accept donations from the running club.
“When we held the run we wanted to do something to help youth athletics so we decided whatever money we raised we would donate back into the community through those organizations that promote youth physical fitness,” Dr. Rachna Minocha said.
The run attracted more than 145 participants in its first year with both five and 10-kilometre events held.
The Striders presented $1,500 to the West Highlands committee that’s raising the $181,836 to fund a larger gymnasium at the new elementary school under construction on Hickman Street.
The larger gymnasium will allow for fixed seating for concerts, sports and other community events.
“This money is certainly appreciated by all the students and staff at the school as well as by members of the enhancement committee,” phys ed teacher and committee co-chair Bryan McNamara said.
Striders club member Rick McKenney said the club wanted to help out the enhancement effort after the school was so supportive of the run. He said the new school will likely be the base for future runs.
The group also presented $500 to both the Cumberland YMCA and ARHS while it gave $1,000 to the Town of Amherst to be placed in trust to help fund a permanent running facility in the community.
“Instead of just making a $1,000 donation we decided to set up a trust fund that we will continue making contributions to so when the town goes to apply for funding there will be money in the trust fund to help with the application,” McKenney said.
Funding for the YMCA was a way to say thanks for that organization’s volunteer work around the run while the group also wanted to support youth athletic programs at the high school.
The Amherst Striders continue to grow with more runners joining the group every month. Ken MacKenzie said one of the reasons the club has become popular is how supportive everyone is toward each other.
From a time when there was just a handful of runners running in isolation, the Striders now includes several hundred members with people training for and competing in marathons, half-marathons and shorter events and some just running for the fun of it.
“We’ve had a lot of success stories about people who never thought about running or people who lost a lot of weight and then turned to running to stay in shape,” MacKenzie said.
A large delegation of Striders recently competed in the Fredericton Marathon in the New Brunswick capital while another large contingent participated in the Bluenose Marathon in Halifax.
The group is also preparing for the Cross Border Challenge in Amherst in June.