A Shoe Thing
Every year, elite athletes make their way to Fort Worth for the annual Cowtown Marathon, including the 26.2-mile main event along with the half and ultra races (there are seven events total). And, then there are the nearly 8,000 school-age kids who pin on their bibs, lace up their shoes and hit the streets for The Cowtown Kids 5K.
While marathon organizers always aim to put on a successful event, their goal extends to a hope to get young people off the couch to keep them healthy and active year-round. Staffers believe that reaching kids at an early age is critical when it comes to physical fitness and overall wellness. More than a decade ago, Heidi Swartz, executive director of The Cowtown, watched as a running coach paid for young runners’ entry fees with her own money. The next year, she and other organizers saw kids cross the finish line wearing ill-fitting shoes, boots and flip-flops. Something had to change, and The Cowtown C.A.L.F. (Children’s Activities for Life & Fitness) Program was born.
An ongoing grant program includes discounted race registration and a new pair of Sketchers athletic shoes. For 2020, there were 5,225 grants awarded. In January, staff began visiting more than 100 schools to fit all those kids with running shoes. Delivery continues through Feb. 21, one week before race weekend. Over the past 11 years, they have delivered 43,000 pairs of shoes.
That’s something to remember if you’re running — or walking: You are supporting the C.A.L.F. program financially. You also can donate through a link on the website. As a spectator, cheer on the runners during Saturday’s Kids 5K or any of the other races. Everyone who finishes truly is a winner. — Meda Kessler