It was a different type of event this year, but it still accomplished the same goal of helping to change lives.
This year’s Boys Town Memorial Day Run was held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. Valerie Schramm, marketing coordinator and Memorial Day Run race director for Boys Town said, “things went really, really well. When we decided to hold the race virtually, everyone was concerned with what was going to happen. Were participants going to take the news positively?”
This year was the 36th year for the event. “We have a lot of following,” Schramm said. “A lot of families come to the event to kick off their holiday. They run and then go cook out. We were a little nervous in how the public was going to perceive everything. We are so happy we made the decision. We had a great number of participants sign up, and we got a lot of positive feedback from the community on our innovativeness and engagement.”
Schramm said 995 people participated in the event, which was down 30% from last year, but Boys Town was pleased with the numbers. The youngest participant was 3 years old and the oldest was 88. Thirty-three states were represented compared with 13 states last year (of course, last year those from out of state had to participate on Boys Town’s campus in Omaha).
The event is for people of any fitness level and age. Participants can run or walk one mile or five miles. For the 2020 event, instead of running or walking on the Boys Town campus, participants could choose when and where they wanted to run or walk any time Saturday through Monday on Memorial Day weekend. Participants then submitted their race time on the honor system via email.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) was a presenting sponsor for this year’s event and has been for more than 15 years. The event benefits the entire Boys Town organization, including the life-changing health care and youth care services offered. The services include 24/7 support for families in crisis, virtual healthcare and the Boys Town National Hotline® for families and teens in crisis.
Jeff Andersen, a product application analyst at BCBSNE, did the five-mile run. “This was the first year I participated,” he said. “My wife does a lot of these runs and is always trying to get me to do them.”
Andersen said he likes to help the community, but he doesn’t like crowds, so this event was great for him. “It was easy to just step out my front door and run on the trail that goes through our sub-division. And, I liked the flexibility of being able to pick my own time and place to run.”
Jamie Holmes, manager of product development at BCBSNE, said this was her third year doing the race. “I really enjoyed the virtual event,” she said. “I’m not a huge crowd person, but I believe in Boys Town’s values and beliefs. And, I want to stay healthy and support a good cause.”
She liked that she could pick the time she ran. “I got up in the morning and ran for a mile on my treadmill. Next year, I may do the five-mile run.”
Holmes added that with the virtual event “you lose a lot of the atmosphere, but during the holiday weekend, it can be challenging for me to get to Boys Town. We usually have family in town that weekend and some years it’s rained during the race, so it was nice to do it on my own time.”
Schramm said Boys Town is planning a virtual aspect for the event in 2021, but the organization is also looking forward to being back on campus. To find out more about the event, visit memorialdayrun.org.