United Way, Keystone Games partner for 5k

By Cabrini Rudnicki - For The Times Leader
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WILKES-BARRE — The main focus of the United Way 5K is to spread the organization’s mission.

United Way of Wyoming Valley will be holding its first-ever 5K for United Way Run/Walk at 9 a.m. today, starting on Public Square.

Kathy Bozinski, director of Marketing and Communications at United Way of Wyoming Valley, spoke about the process of bringing the 5K to reality.

“We were looking for a way to engage more people so they understand what the United Way is all about, and create an activity that we could host,” she explained. “Some members of our staff suggested a 5K walk/run. We thought it was a good idea. We’ve been working on this since early spring.”

More than 110 runners have registered for the event. Participants can choose from a 5k run or a mile walk.

The course has racers starting at Public Square, then going over the Market Street Bridge, through Kirby and Nesbitt Park, and back to Public Square. Registration is $25.

United Way encourages participants to dress up as their favorite story book character for a chance to win a prize. Keeping with the theme, the organization also will accept donations of children’s books.

After the run, an award ceremony and after party will be held at 10 a.m. at Rodano’s.

The race is in partnership with the Keystone State Games, Pennsylvania’s Olympic-style athletic competition which takes place in Luzerne County this year.

“We contacted them and they adopted the race as an official Keystone State Game event,” said Bozinski. “Not only is this just a run for United Way, the winners will get actual medals courtesy of Keystone State Games.”

United Way of Wyoming Valley is a social services organization based in Wilkes-Barre which focuses on reducing childhood poverty.

“The United Way of Wyoming Valley is engaged in community impact focus. A study shows that poverty, specifically childhood poverty, is the biggest issue facing our region,” Bozinski said. “Children in Wyoming Valley live below the poverty-line, and that is reflected in schools and other areas.”

United Way raises funds to produce programs to help children in poverty get better access to early education, as well as programs that focus on better healthcare, and the engagement of parents with information on financial stability.

Many of the volunteers and runners involved with 5K are part of a new program started by United Way, Young Professionals. The program focuses on recent college graduates who do not have the financial resources to donate, but are interested in volunteering their time.

“We want everybody to enjoy the event, and feel a sense of community,” said Bozinski. “We want people to get great exercise, encourage healthy living, and to help people understand exactly what the United Way contributes to the community.”

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By Cabrini Rudnicki

For The Times Leader