The Thanksgiving 5K in Hamilton is a growing local tradition that started a few years ago with 30 runners. Now, hundreds participate in the event that raises funds for a ministry that helps teen mothers and their children.

Growing Hamilton Thanksgiving 5K helps teen moms and their kids

But there were no running events in Hamilton, so she started her own, and combined it with another passion — helping teen mothers and their children thrive despite the obstacles they face.

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“We started four years ago, and we had 30 people sign up for a 5K,” said Powers, 37. “We ran around Highland Park, starting in our driveway. My husband (Mark Powers) and I started it at our house.”

“We partnered with YoungLives, which is a local ministry for teen moms, and their kids,” Powers said. “It’s a mentorship program. Our aim was just to gather some people and raise support and awareness for YoungLives, and start a new tradition on Thanksgiving morning in Hamilton.”

After she and Mark married six years ago, she would drive to Blue Ash and Cincinnati for Thanksgiving events, before starting the Hamilton run, Thanksgiving 5K.

“Year two, we decided to move it to Wilson Middle School and make it official,” she said. “The second year was when we actually got our permit and started to advertise a little bit more, and we had 360 people come out, which blew us away, because we started with 30, and didn’t imagine that many people.”

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The first year raised $100. The second year’s event raised “just about enough money to send all of our girls to summer camp, which was cool,” she said. Typically 15-20 teens mothers are part of the YoungLives mentorship program.

The mentors are in close contact with the teen moms regularly, and help them with issues of being young mothers.

“There are definitely a lot of challenges that they have to overcome, and having someone alongside them as a mentor is just a huge help to them,” said Powers, who is the race director. “Having someone to go to appointments with you, and help answer questions, and be there for you when it gets hard, that’s what makes the YoungLives ministry unique, and this race, I think, is a neat way to help people see a group of people that is under-served and sometimes overlooked in our community.”

In 2017, 537 people signed up for the race, which this year will be presented by the Hamilton Community Foundation.

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As of Tuesday afternoon, 581 had signed up for this year’s race, which begins and ends at Wilson Middle School, with an after-party there, featuring refreshments from Almond Sisters Bakery and True West Coffee, plus massages and various games.

A free kids’ fun run starts at 8:30 a.m. The 5K starts at 9 a.m. The 5K entry fee is $25.

People can sign up at www.HamiltonThanksgiving5K.org, or in person the day of the race, with registration starting at 7:45 a.m. Local businesses have donated prizes for top finishers.

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