by Joey Traywick
Have you ever run at night? It is exhilarating.
There’s something about the night sounds and the dark that bring out a little of the primal instinct. If you add some neon paint and some kicking music, you have the atmosphere at this year’s 2016 United Luv’s Glow Run.
The set up was extensive as there were several food trucks, tents for face painting, and a photo booth complete with its own hashtag and Snapchat filter. I may be biased as I had the honor of being the MC for the night, but this was an extremely well prepared event. As MC, every fifteen minutes or so I got on stage and reminded people to wear their number bibs in the front and on the outside of their jackets or tutus or inflatable sumo wrestling suits (no joke). This run brings out the fun in people. And it is a fun job in that I get to see a ton of my friends and support a great cause. What could be better!?
This year, Vicki and Sheldon Eaton (the event founders and organizers) along with Dallas and Dusty, their sons, out did themselves. The event really got rolling at about 6pm when DJMK got the music pumping! It was hard not to dance with each new iteration of the hits from back in “the day”. There were big screens displaying pictures in real time from the photo booth as long as they had the hashtag #ULglowrun16 attached to them on social media. So, you take a picture with your friends, post it on Instagram or Facebook or wherever and viola! It shows up on the big screen in about a minute! That was a BIG hit! Who doesn’t love a silly selfie with friends!? On a big screen!? There were also balloons for sale that you could place the name of a loved one inside either in memory of them or just to celebrate their fight.
Honestly, I have been to a BUNCH of “cancer-related” events over the years and they all seem to have an over arching sense of something just a touch depressing, you know? Kind of like they are saying, “Yes, we are hopeful but don’t forget, this is CANCER we are talking about.”
This year’s Glow Run felt nothing like that. It was joy and celebration right from the start! As the over 1,500 people filled Pioneer Park just north of Wendy’s Field, you could tell that people were coming to laugh and love and have fun and that is exactly what the entire Eaton family wanted. Neon yellow shirts were milling around with glow sticks and flashing bulbs as the sun started to set and the 7pm run start time came closer.
Right before the start of the 5k, Gina, the amazing Zumba instructor, took over the mic and led the crowd in a quick warm-up that combined salsa and hip-hop in just the right ways. The highlight for me was watching hundreds of people line up to run.
We all see the bad news everyday. Many of us feel as though the days ahead could be darker than the days past. Whether it’s politics or climate change or armed violence, it can begin to feel as though the darkness is either gaining or looming in tomorrow’s headlines. But seeing everyone with lights in the darkness reminded me of the good left in this world. Hundreds of people gathering to stand for a great cause and honor the memory of an amazing young man pushes back on the idea that the world is bad and getting worse every day. I sincerely believe it is these demonstrations of humanity that happen randomly and quietly in our backyards and parks and even in the dark that ultimately hold the hope of our future. People willing to unite for love.
It was all pretty much over in the next 45 minutes. The runners from the 5k and the runners from the 2 mile distance gathered around for their chance to win a $250 gift card from Scheels or Goldsmith Jewelers. The gentleman that won the $100 in the 50/50 drawing gave it back to the cause. The drizzle and the wind that came up near the end dissipated quickly and discouraged no one as the Eaton family got to thank everyone for coming out. Their gratitude was not only for the support the great cause of placing iPads in the hands of hospital patients that are receiving cancer treatment, but also for honoring the vision and the memory of their son, Ryan.
I was honored to be invited.
Let’s do it again next year. K?