HealthWorks! hits trail for annual 5K

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The trademark wacky, happy style of HealthWorks! will be on the run Saturday.
The children’s health education center will escape its central Tupelo building for its second annual Tie-Dye Invitational 5K run and carry its enthusiasm for healthy fun to the Tupelo Cross Country Trail at Ballard Park.
“Serious runners who want to try for a good time will be able to run,” said HealthWorks! High Flying Kid Motivator Kathy Tucker. “Recreational runners will be able to enjoy themselves.”
Why an 8:41 start time?
“It’s fun to run at 8:41,” High Flying Kid Motivator Tracy Williams said in rhyme.
Spectators will have noisemakers and bubbles to encourage the runners.
HealthWorks! has added its over-the-top style to the event’s trophies, too.
Bill Williams Sporting Goods cleaned out its attic of old trophies and awards, said Donna Loden, HealthWorks! Imaginator of Awesome Experiences, and the HealthWorks! crew has repurposed them with stickers, plastic vegetables, bottles of items, deodorant and other decorations into offbeat awards not only for the King of Tie and the Queen of Dye – the top male and female finishers – but also for the fastest person over 70 and 137th place.
For 36 kids, the run is the culmination of the Lighten Up Running is Fun program, which is sponsored by the Lee County Medical Alliance with help from the Rotary and the Kiwanis civic clubs. The city of Tupelo’s Quality of Life Taskforce also is supporting the run.
Since March, boys and girls in fourth through eighth grade have been learning about running, fitness, healthy snacks and fun.
“I think they have absorbed that there are fun ways to exercise and prepare for a 5K,” said Gina Thorderson, the chairwoman of the alliance’s health programs committee. “Most of them have truly improved their ability to run.”
Losing weight isn’t the focus of the program – it’s all about fostering a lifelong love of physical activity and encouraging good nutrition. However, one child has lost about 15 pounds and gained a tremendous sense of achievement.
“The best thing is feeling good about yourself,” Loden said.
On Friday night, the kids will get together with their parents for one last hurrah and prepare for the big race with Pasta Pollooza, that is supported by Tellini’s.
Lee County Medical Alliance will host Lighten Up Fitness is Fun starting in September, and repeat Lighten Up: Running is Fun in the spring in a prelude to the third annual Tie Dye.