The run is named for Paige Arnold, an 8-year-old who died of cancer 21 years ago. Her parents started the Butterfly Run in 1997, and it now generates more than $200,000 per year for the hospital. Paige’s has raised more than $2 million overall for treatment, research and family assistance.
My job each of the past few years has been to stand at either the 1- or 2-mile point on the course with a stopwatch and call out the elapsed time as runners go by. The faster folks always want to know their pace, so I have to call out the time frequently — and loudly — as the lead pack goes by.
I continue that for several solid minutes as the middle of the pack cruises past. My voice usually starts to go hoarse, but I can ease up as the crush of runners thins out and is replaced by joggers and walkers.
At Paige’s Saturday, there were dozens and dozens of green T-shirt-clad “Girls on the Run” — girls in grades three through five, running with a coach, in a program designed to foster empowerment through running.
In some cases, it was hard to tell if the girls were glad to have hit the 2-mile point, or discouraged that they had 1.1 miles to go.
But along with the other volunteers at my spot (a group of high school students from Paige’s home town), we offered enough encouragement to get a lot of smiles in return.
We counted on their coaches, including many moms, to take it the rest of the way. I’m confident there were even more smiles at the finish line.