By Megan Rule | Staff Writer
The Wonderland Run will take off for the first time this Saturday, Dec. 3, as a part of the Waco Wonderland extravaganza taking place this weekend.
“This is our first year doing this so I’m excited to see how it turns out and how it goes,” said Aaron Mize, director of development and community partnership with Communities in Schools of the Heart of Texas (CIS-HOT). “We’re excited to see the turn out because there has been a lot of excitement already.”
CIS-HOT had a race for the past two years in the spring, but the city of Waco didn’t have a holiday themed run, and Mize said CIS-HOT saw the opportunity to make this an annual event. CIS-HOT is working with the city of Waco to coordinate the run.
“I’m so excited about this run, it’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit,” said Basking Ridge, NJ sophomore Rachel Creedon. “It’s a great addition to this weekend’s festivities.”
The Wonderland Run features a 1-mile walk, a 5K run and a 10K run. Both the running races will start at 8 a.m. Saturday at the corner of Austin Avenue and 3rd Street in front of City Hall. The runners will head towards Cameron Park then loop back to finish at the start line. Mize said the courses are USA Track and Field approved, meaning the distances have been certified for accuracy. Mize said the 1-mile portion is a walk for people to get involved even if they don’t want to run, and it starts at 9 a.m. Saturday. The walk will go down Austin Avenue and finish just in time for the parade that will also travel down Austin Avenue, starting at 10 a.m.
“We’re excited and already looking forward to next year,” Mize said. “We will learn from this kickoff year and hopefully make it better by getting more sponsors and more support.”
The registration fees are $45 for the 10K run, $35 for the 5K run and $20 for an individual 1-mile entry or $40 for a family of four. According to the race website, packet pickup will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 2 at 1001 Washington Ave. For those that cannot make it Friday evening, packets will be available for pickup starting at 7 a.m. Saturday. The race will take place no matter the weather situation. Those interested can register on the race website.
Mize said there will be Wonderland Run t-shirts for the first 300 people that register. People are also encouraged to dress in holiday-themed clothes and “bring out the holiday spirit.” There will be medals for age-category winners.
CIS-HOT serves about 3,500 students in the greater Waco area every year by providing a community of support and empowering students to stay in school. Mize said the proceeds will go to sustainability for the organization, which is important for the nonprofits to stay in the community and continue doing the work they do. Proceeds will also go to immediate needs for students such as school supplies, health and wellness necessities and clothing for uniforms. This race will also support the case management that CIS-HOT does, as staff are involved in school life and on-campus work.
Mize said that all this work done by CIS-HOT helps students get the support that they need and helps them get caught up if they need to focus on staying on top of school work.
“It’s going to be fun and people seem to be excited to have a holiday-themed run take place downtown. It’s something to continue and have more people involved,” Mize said. “A big part of it too is getting the word out and exposing people to what we do and spreading our message.”