ST. GEORGE — Hundreds of children proved they have what it takes to be Ironkids Friday evening at the “2018 Fun Run” in downtown St. George.
About 300 kids ran in the annual race at Town Square Park, allowing them to take part in the weekend’s events surrounding the 2018 Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship St. George.
Race entrants had the choice to run in half-mile or mile foot races. Everyone was awarded with a medal as parents and volunteers cheered on the children, aged 3-13.
Brian Richardson came in first for the mile-long race.
“It felt pretty good,” he said of his effort at the finish line.
“He just loves to run. We enjoy supporting him,” the boy’s father, Tom Richardson, said. “He won last year, so he was hoping to come back and hold onto his title.”
The race is sponsored by the St. George Exchange Club, and proceeds of the participants’ entrance fees will go toward programs aimed at the prevention of child abuse.
“Everything we do is centered around students, kids and youth,” James McFadden, Exchange Club member and Fun Run race captain, said. “We want to give them a voice. We want them to know they have a power within them and they can find help. They don’t have to be afraid.”
In addition to supporting the Southern Utah Preforming Arts Festival and the “Give Me Liberty” and Freedom Shrines programs, the St. George Exchange Club gives out about 30,000 community resource cards every other year to schools to be distributed to kids in need.
“There are children out there going through traumatic things that no kid should have to go through,” McFadden said. “So, we reach out to school districts, we provide funds for them to put towards programs like that.”
Previously, $120,000 from the club’s fundraisers was put toward the Thunder Junction All Abilities Park in St. George, a public play area designed to be inclusive of children with disabilities.
McFadden said the Exchange Club’s initiative in donating to the park’s completion spurred other organizations to donate millions more.
“We would really like to grow the club over the next two years,” McFadden said. “There are things that we want to do, but we need to get the donors and the patrons to help us do that.”
The club meets every Thursday at George’s Corner for breakfast. First-time guests are treated to free breakfast while they learn about the organization.
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