Free smiles for volunteers at 5K fundraiser

Paige's Butterfly Run

Happy participants in Paige’s Butterfly Run 5K in Syracuse. This group entered the “centipede” division and ran the 5K tethered together.

This is the fourth year I’ve volunteered at Paige’s Butterfly Run, a 5-kilometer run in Syracuse that benefits children (and their families) receiving care at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

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.

Girls on the Run

Girls on the Run.

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.


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
This entry was posted in cancer, children's hospital, Irish Investigations, running and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Free smiles for volunteers at 5K fundraiser

  1. ksbeth says:

    fantastic on so many levels, jim. the cause, the people, the teamwork –

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Angie Mc says:

    I would *love* to run in this event! Great post, Jim. I feel like I was there 😀


  3. lundygirl says:

    I love the idea of the centipede.


  4. What a great event Jim. Love the photo’s


  5. Sounds like fun and what great cause with such a moving history Jim! You need a megaphone! ❤
    Diana xo


  6. Great things happen when people come together to smile, raise awareness, build and empower others….all in the memory of a lost child. Thank you .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jim McKeever says:

    Absolutely, Colleen .. Paige’s parents are very involved, two decades later, and continually honor their daughter. She’d be 29 now …


  8. markbialczak says:

    Great view of people doing the community and themselves good, Jim. And of course you’re in the middle of it. Well done, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amy says:

    I enjoy working at races almost more than I enjoy doing them. Especially as I get older. Looks like fun!


  10. reocochran says:

    I like encouraging bystanders who cheer runners on. Time keepers motivate people so much, Jim. Children are, to me, our most important cause.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. cat9984 says:

    What a wonderful idea – to empower the girls through running. They say that girls who participate in sports have better self images than those who don’t.


    • Jim McKeever says:

      I totally agree, Cathy … There’s a wonderful documentary, “Spirit of the Marathon,” which touches on the history of women and running. They were kept out of running (among other things) for way too long. There’s a quote in the documentary about why women historically weren’t allowed to run distances longer than 800 meters — the fear was that “their uterus would fall out.” Crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

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