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DMES is racing to read

Posted: October 11, 2011 4:00 p.m.
Updated: October 12, 2011 5:00 a.m.
Ashley Lewis Ford/C-I

KershawHealth Community Health Educator/SafeKids Coordinator Whitney Hinson, DMES student Summer Staples and DMES Media Specialist Betsy Long read health education books in the elementary school’s media center.

It’s been seven years since the first annual Doby’s Mill Elementary School (DMES) Race to Read was held in the town Elgin.

What started out as a one-mile walk/run has quickly grown into an annual 8K-race and one-mile run/walk at the elementary school that attracts more than 100 local and out-of-town runners and walkers each year. The event also started out as a means for the elementary school to make “small, but meaningful” donations to the Kershaw County Library. It has now grown into a partnership between DMES and KershawHealth resulting in even larger donations to the local library last year.

“In the previous years, we were only able to give $200 to the library because costs associated with the race were so high,” DMES Media Specialist Betsy Long said. “But last year, we broke over $1,000, so just to have that sponsorship with a group that’s involved in the health of the county is a huge bonus for us. It’s a good partnership.”

Long said she asked KershawHealth last year if they would be interested in partnering with the school, after noticing that the hospital was getting more involved in local races.

Luckily, the hospital said yes.

“We want to reduce the chronic diseases we have here in Kershaw County, and what better way to do that than exercise and teaching people how to eat healthy,” said KershawHealth Community Health Educator/SafeKids Coordinator Whitney Hinson. “So partnering with the race helps us to promote healthy and active lifestyles.”

Now in the school’s second year of partnering with the healthcare system, Long said all donations to the public library go towards buying early literacy materials dealing with health topics in an effort to make an even stronger tie between healthy living and the race.

“Those topics change, the statistics change and become outdated in a lot of area. Those are topics that both (the Kershaw County Library) and I both could also use beefing up in our collection,” she said. “By buying the early literacy materials that these children aren’t generally reading on their own, we’re hoping that parents read these books with their children, talk about these topics, and internalize some of it and teach these things to their kids.”

In the future, Long said she would like to see the race continue to grow and get larger, possibly even adding booths for a small health expo after the race has ended. As the race continues to grow, Long said she hopes even more people will be inspired to come out and support their local library.

“I’d love to have something where people could go around and get your blood pressure checked and pick up information on breast cancer awareness,” she said. “So I’d love to see it get bigger, but that just takes time.”

“And what a great way for parents and kids to walk together, and for kids to see their parents exercising,” Hinson said of the race. “It’s very important to be a good role model.”

To sign up for the Race to Read 8K and 1-mile Fun Run/Walk, visit Strictly Running’s web site at www.strictlyrunning.com.

The race begins 8 a.m. October 22 at Doby’s Mill Elementary School.

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