5-550?v=1

Healthy Kids Running Series

A Non-Profit to Run With

An electric cornflower blue sky hangs over Staring Lake Park. If not for the distant hum of a Cessna taking off, the lacrosse field would be totally silent. Preschoolers stand there in a row. Some are grinning ear to ear. Others look as intent as border collies watching a squirrel through a plate glass door. A few of them appear confused. “Who are these other kids?” they ask themselves. “Why did my mom pin these numbers to my shirt? It’s covering up my favorite Paw Patrol character…”

A megaphone crackles to life in the hands of a toddler. The amplified voice of Leo Knapp snaps every child’s head to attention. “On yoah mahk … get set … go!” Instantly tiny feet begin beating against the grass as the kids all commence their mad dash. The crowd erupts while the pint-sized sprinters barrel toward the 75-yard finish line.

Because they are human, every mom and dad in attendance hopes their own child will win. Of course, they also possess the savoir faire requisite to avoid embarrassing themselves by taking the competitive aspect of Healthy Kids Running Series (HKRS) even remotely seriously. They didn’t come to the park to prove their children are the fastest in the southwest metro. They came because they cherish camaraderie, sportsmanship, and the sense of belonging – and want their own kids to do the same.

“The nearest HKRS used to be over in Woodbury,” said Jennifer Knapp, Leo’s mother. “My husband Jeromy and I brought our older son Charlie there. The drive wasn’t too horrible, and it’s worth the trip even if you’re only going to Nadia Cakes, but ultimately we had better places to be than on 494.

“I called the HKRS national office to ask if they could open a chapter in Eden Prairie, or at least closer to it. It turned out that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do if you would like to become an HKRS community coordinator.

“April 30th marked the beginning of HKRS’ fourth series in Eden Prairie. Registration for the current five-week program is still open, and we’ll begin our fifth series this September. We hold foot races for children aged two to 18 on Sundays at 4pm. Every child races against their peers on an age-appropriate course: 50 yards for our youngest competitors, and two miles for the oldest. Everyone runs on grass, which is a famously forgiving surface to faceplant on. Kids compete each week for a chance to earn points and win trophies. We award a medal to every participant for all their hard work at the grand finale on June 4th. We also give a Healthy Kid award to the kids who exemplify the positive attitude and personal improvement that are the founding principles of the HKRS.

“Every race day has a special theme, like sports, animals or rainbows. Universal Pictures sponsored one of last year’s races – ‘The Minion Fun Run,’ for which dozens of children dressed in varyingly convincing Minion costumes. Last October we observed Breast Cancer Awareness Month by wearing pink, eating Sergeant Shortbread’s delicious pink cookies, enjoying the beautiful ‘Think Pink’ display by Card My Yard, and passing out donation flyers for Susan G. Komen. We’re big on supporting our fellow non-profits, and are ecstatic to have recently partnered with Race for the Cure.

“I think my favorite is superhero and princess day. That’s when we see an astounding number of little Spider-Mans and Elsas, and also when members of the Eden Prairie Fire Department and Eden Prairie Police Department come to show off their neat vehicles. A lot of our racers are right at that age when seeing a fire truck feels like winning the lottery.

“Participating in HKRS has been wonderful for my sons. Even when they’re racing up and down the hallways inside our own home – very noisily, I might add – they’re still being positive and supportive toward one another. They bring that same spirit to every other sport and activity they participate in. Leo and Charlie also made lots of great friends through HKRS, and now have playdates all over the southwest suburbs.

“My husband and I have taken a lot from HKRS as well. We’ve certainly made our own fair share of new friends. It is invigorating to feel the true spirit of community during so many beautiful days at the park. More than anything, creating an environment where kids can flourish has felt incredibly rewarding. It is amazing how much confidence they can gain over the course of just five races. Some shave 20 or even 30 seconds off their first race time, but no one really participates in HKRS so they become a better runner. They come for a positive introduction to a healthy and active lifestyle – and of course to have fun!”

You may register your children for Healthy Kids Running Series at healthykidsrunningseries.org. You may also contact Jennifer directly at edenprairiemn@healthykidsrs.org or (651) 283-1729 if you have any questions, want to volunteer, or would like to become a sponsor.

If you have a business, then you also have the opportunity to sponsor this fine non-profit
organization. In addition to this magazine, HKRS receives support from:

Burn Boot Camp • Card My Yard – Eden Prairie • Chick-fil-A – Eden Prairie • DrinkFit • Eden Prairie Parks & Rec • Giant • Hi-Five Sports Zone • Levici • Musselman's •  SCHEELS • Sergeant Shortbread • Sunopta • Texas Beef Council • Universal Pictures • UnitedHealthcare • USA Track & Field Foundation • Youth Runner Magazine

A megaphone crackles to life in the hands of a toddler. The amplified voice of Leo Knapp snaps every child’s head to attention. “On yoah mahk … get set … go!” Instantly tiny feet begin beating against the grass as the kids all commence their mad dash. The crowd erupts while the pint-sized sprinters barrel toward the 75-yard finish line.

Businesses Featured in this Article

Related Businesses

Bennett Eye Institute

Optometrists

Bennett Eye Institute

Kailua Kona, HI

Our mission is to help you enjoy life to the fullest by protecting, preserving and restoring the most precious gift-the gift...

Duben Holistic Chiropractic Center

Chiropractors

Duben Holistic Chiropractic Center

Westlake Village, CA

Here at Duben Holistic Chiropractic Center, our chiropractors can treat auto accident injuries, workplace injuries, sports...

See More

Related Articles

See More