On Saturday, March 23rd the first annual Running of the Bears 5K was held at Vestal High School in Vestal, New York to benefit the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (USA). The race was organized by students from the school’s Varsity Club.
The students chose to donate the proceeds from the race to Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (USA) after meeting Cami, the young granddaughter of a teacher from our school who was recently diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome. Cami won all of our hearts with her winning smile and curious disposition. Cami’s grandmother was able to teach us about Prader-Willi syndrome and the difficulties facing Cami as she grows up.
March weather in New York is unpredictable and race day turned out to be a bit chilly, windy and even a little snowy but the inaugural race still drew 299 participants including over 100 students. Runners and walkers took off from the front of the high school, covered the 3.1 mile course and returned to a rocking party featuring student musicians, refreshments and prizes. Many local businesses contributed to help cover the costs of the party as well as commemorative “Running of the Bears” race t-shirts.
On race day, we were joined by two more local children with Prader-Willi syndrome along with their families. Cami, Ellie and Tommy rocked out to the band, danced with our students and hung out with the Bears’ mascots after the race.
The event was a great success in many ways. We raised over $7,000 for the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association; we all had a really great time; and the students and staff who organized this race learned so much about the rewards of community service and how much you get back when you give.
We’re all looking forward to next year’s 2nd annual Running of the Bears!