Friday, May 15, 2015

We Heart Harlie & Friends 5k and Raffle Event

This past Saturday was the We Heart Harlie & Friends 5k and Raffle event.  I honestly don't know how I will write about it to do it justice.  It is an overwhelming event, for sure.  This year it was held at Glen Allen High School and the setting was perfect.  I am hoping that we have finally found our home for this event so we can keep it there every year.  Having that consistency will definitely help us make the event better and better each year.

It looked like we had more people at the event this year.  I don't know the final numbers, but we definitely had WAY more registered participants (over 200) than ever before.  And as I looked around at all the people that chose to spend their precious time with us that day, I was truly overwhelmed.  How in the world did this happen?  How did we become so incredibly lucky to have such a massive, compassionate, caring, energetic and fantastic support system?

I wish I had an aerial shot of the event so you could see how many people were there.  It was amazing!  I went fishing through photos people shared on Facebook and found this one, shared by Dee Shackford.  This is only one part of the area!

Here are a few more photos from the day:

Harlie on the slide.
Here is the start of the 5k.  Just look at all those Inclusive Racing athletes and runners!  I can tell you that pushing a child/adult while running is HARD work!  I have so much admiration and respect for them.  None of them have to do that, but they want to.  Wonderful people to want to give running and racing to those who can't experience it for themselves.

The start of the 5k.  

Bryan Mangas and Harlie coming into the finish.

Cooper during the 1/2 mile kids fun run.

It is always fun to watch the kids race.

Bill Ridgway, his son Noah, and me.

Amy is the one in the black shirt and she is Harlie's
wonderful speech therapist.  So thankful for her!!

Niki, Katherine, Anna and Kat - my marathon running friends.
We've logged a lot of miles together over the years.
So happy to have them in my life! 

The Allen family.  Also our lead sponsor -
Capstone Financial.  Thank you, Rob!
Our sponsor banner.  How awesome is that?!
Harlie and her friends have wonderful supporters!! 

We had an MC this year and he was fantastic!
Thank you Fred Bouzek!
We had a section of Kids Helping Kids this year (new).  We had painted rocks (super cute), bracelets, necklaces, cupcakes, a basketball hoop, etc.  Kids came up with ways to make money and then donated all or some to We Heart Harlie and Friends.  I was so impressed.  I wish I had pictures of all of them, but it is a crazy day and I didn't take ANY pictures!  Thankfully, Paige Stevens Photography was there for a bit and took some great shots for us.  Thanks, Paige!

Camdyn and her cupcakes.

Madison and her painted washer necklaces.
Then there's these three...

Cooper, Murphy and their friend Garrett.
Some other things I'd like to mention:

Girls on the Run participated in our race and it was awesome to have them with us this year.  They had a lot of young girls who ran the 5k and it was awesome to see them finish.  I hope they can join us next year, too.

We had two food trucks.  Thank you to Port o' Call and King of Pops.  I originally had three lined up, but one didn't show.  It turned out to be better that way.  I was in charge of booking the food trucks, and let me tell you that it was a learning experience.  Next year will be better, for sure.  I was late getting to them, so it wasn't easy to find some that were available.  And I should have had them arrive a lot earlier.  Live and learn, right?  But, for the record, I had the best popsicle, ever (orange cream) from King of Pops.  And Port o' Call made the best pork tacos I've ever had.  So, so good!

We had a little hiccup with the 5k course.  I don't have all the information yet, but from what I've gathered, there was a wrong turn made near the end of the course that made it short.  Again, lessons learned.  As soon as people started arriving in the morning, I felt like we were in over our heads.  We had the best attendance (I believe) yet and quite frankly, I think we are at a place where we need some help to run this.  It's just gotten too big for the few people that are putting it together.  This is a GREAT thing, of course!  So, we are already brainstorming and reaching out to those who put together real, certified races.  I'm happy to report that we have some great people who have already committed to helping us run the 5k next year!  Woohoo!

We have also decided to move the date for next year.  The feedback we received is that Mother's Day weekend was difficult scheduling-wise.  It was Mother's Day, of course.  And it was the Susan G. Komen walk for the cure on the same day.  So, we decided to try the first weekend of May next year.  More info on that in the future, of course.

Also, thank you to the DJ, our face painters, Mad Science (provided cotton candy), all our businesses and individuals who donated items for the raffle (we had some great raffles again this year).

I wish I could put all the photos in this blog post.  But, since I can't, I will post a link to the website when they are up.  Until then you can check out the We Heart Harlie and Friends site for photos of last year's event.

Lynda (WHH&F's Executive Director) posted a few posts since the event.  You should read this one. I have no words to add.  Bryce and Lindsey are wonderful people, who have their own tragic story. I met Lindsey at the event and I told her that I hate that she has a story, too.  I liked her instantly.  She's strong, I can tell.  I suppose that's what having your own story makes you.  Just standing there talking with her and thinking about their sweet baby made me cry.  And I wanted so desperately to say something that would ease their pain.  But, I don't think words like that exist.  Bryce ran with Inclusive Racing for the first time at the event.  What a great guy - just great people all around!  And I'm so sorry, but I don't know the other gentlemen in the photo.  How awesome is it that there were so many people I didn't know at the event!  That proves how much it's growing!

Bryce is on the right and Stefan is in the middle.
Thank you for your amazing support and love, Bryce and Lindsey Neumann!

And thank you to everyone who came out and had a great time with us this year!  It really was a wonderfully crazy few hours!  And thank you to everyone who volunteered, sponsored and donated to help make the day happen.  Especially Lynda Reider - she puts her heart and soul into this foundation.  How she does so much, I'll never know.

I can't tell you how difficult it is to properly thank everyone.  The words, "thank you" just don't feel adequate.  I'll speak for all the friends - Alex, Harlie, Abby, Morgan and Peyton - you made a difference in these girls' lives.  I'm talking gifts of specialized care, much needed therapies and various modifications they need to live good, full lives.  All of their moms and dads are so grateful.

Much love to you all!
~Christy xo


Susan said...

Christy you absolutely amaze me! I am so thrilled to hear how fantastically well your event went! It's incredible really! Indeed you are fortunate to have so many wonderful friends who are so supportive in so many ways. XOXOXO Love and miss you. - Susan

Betsy Hart said...

I cannot believe you guys put that on yourself. That is impressive!