The annual Hina Patel Foundation 5k/10k Run/Walk started as Hina’s brainchild. She wanted to increase awareness in the community about her disease, so she organized the first event in 2008 as her Girl Scout’s culminating project. Since that time, the event has increased in scope and effect, developing into one of the most popular 5k/10k races in the city.
Every September, Sickle Cell Disease month, foundation organizers, student volunteers, eager runners and walkers, patients and their families, and members of the community come together to support the cause. Organizers arrive before sunrise to prepare the park for hundreds of attendees. Poster boards line the perimeter, providing information about Sickle Cell Disease for everyone in attendance. Music fills the air during registration. Families of local patients proudly wear their team t-shirts, adding color and joy to the festivities. Local vendors donate food items and water bottles to runners preparing for the race. To create awareness for community members, Sickle Cell Disease patients give testimonials about their personal experiences. The National Anthem is sung, and the racers are off!
But that’s not the end – the 5k/10k Run/Walk simply serves as an introduction to a full day of festivities. After the race, volunteers serve a variety of healthy snacks and sweet treats to weary runners. Smiles appear like magic on the faces of children interacting with a visiting clown, getting their faces painted, or having their hands adorned with henna. Victorious racers pose for selfies with fellow runners and friends. Booth attendants encourage attendees to sign up to Be The Match or donate blood at the Houchin Blood bank.
Each year, the event has grown in size and impact. Approximately 150 people have signed up to become bone marrow donors, and hundreds more have donated blood at the event. Hina’s dream of creating awareness of the disease in her local community has been realized, and it continues to serve as a fun, engaging method for generating support. Join us for the next 5k/10k Run/Walk this coming September!