By Jim Newell
It may be a 5K race over hard pavement, but it’s the run with a tender side that welcomes families and those in the special needs community.
The second annual Tender Turtle 5K race begins at 10 a.m. Oct. 12, with registration the day of the race beginning at 9 a.m. at Lockhart’s BBQ on Flint Street. There is also a one-mile fun run option.
Proceeds from the race activities go to The Daisy Project, a non-profit dedicated to inclusive activities for children and adults with special needs. The Daisy Project has raised funds for the all-inclusive playground equipment and the Miracle League Field at Friendship Park.
“I want to raise as much money as I can for The Daisy Project. It goes right back into our community. It’s a win-win, really,” said Amy Silvester, race organizer and creator of the Tender Turtle 5K. “It just seemed fitting and right to give back to that charity.
Last year, the race had just under 50 participants.
“I was really hoping to double it, maybe triple it. I have a goal of 150-200 people,” said Silvester, who started the race last year and named it after her children’s book series, The Tender Turtle.
Registration for the Tender Turtle 5K is $25 for adults, $15 for students, $5 for kids or a $30 family entry option. T-shirts are available for those who register online, but Silvester said she will have extra t-shirts for sale at the race.
The Tender Turtle 5K/Fun Run route is wheelchair accessible, so those in the community will special needs can also participate, Silvester said. The start and finish line are at Shadbolt and Anderson streets and the course winds through village streets.
All participants will receive a medal, which Silvester said isn’t conventional, but functional instead.
“I’ve done a lot of races in my life and I know a lot of people have their medal areas, but I tend to put them in a box. These are functional,” Silvester said. “We’re making magnetic bottle openers, but I’m turning them into medals.”
There is an after party at Lockhart’s. Runners are admitted free, with a $2 entry fee at the door for non-runners. The after party will have some free light refreshments and cash bar and a silent auction, which will include items donated by local businesses.
“It would be a shame for people not to come and participate at the after-party, too. We have so much to offer. We have a great silent auction,” Silvester said, adding that in addition to supporting The Daisy Project, she hopes the race brings exposure to downtown and local businesses.
“So many wonderful businesses have supported this again, so I want to support them, too.”
DJs from Three Mates Entertainment will play music during after party. Da the Clown and Cha Cha the Tree Frog from Rainforest Café will also be at the race to entertain the kids and cheer them on.
Silvester said Ainsley’s Angels will also participate in the activities. Ainsley’s Angels of America works to create awareness about America’s special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life.
Local vendors and groups supporting this year’s race – through silent auction items, donations or participation – include Dutton Farms, Cookies & Cream, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sarah’s Bath Boutique, Lockhart’s, Fogler’s, Rainforest Café, Lake Orion Printing & Design and Elixir.
Author Nate Perkins will also launch his children’s book, Hop, at the race.
“I love our community and I want to give back to our community and I’m in a position now that I can do that,” Silvester said.