Eager children, staff members and volunteers congregated at the Cheyenne River Youth Project® campus on Saturday, June 15 for the nearly 25-year-old, not-for-profit organization’s first-ever “Run of the Turtles.” Sponsored in part by the Four Bands Healing Center and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Commission, ROTT incorporated a 1K walk and a 5K run.
CRYP Youth Programs Assistant Tasina Smith designed this exciting new summer event to promote courage, perseverance and friendly competition, as well as diabetes prevention and the pleasure of sharing healthy exercise with family and friends. ROTT kicked off with a light breakfast at the youth project’s Cokata Wiconi teen center on East Lincoln Street, then it was time to make tracks for the starting line.
Twelve-year-old Kendron Bowker won the 5K, running the entire 3.1 miles himself in 30 minutes rather than participating in a relay team. He won Adidas track wear, an MP3 player and a “Run of the Turtles” T-shirt, which CRYP staff created in-house.
“I’m thinking about being in cross country, but I’m not too sure if I can until another year,” he commented after the race. “I really like to run because of how fast I can go.”
“I was really shocked at how fast Kendron ran,” Smith said. “Once he started, he did not stop, and one of our volunteers calculated he averaged about an 8- or 9-minute mile.”
Seven-year-old Janessa Eagle Horse and younger sibling Quinn, 5, competed in the 1K walk. They reported that the course included some steamy weather, farm animals, and intrepid CRYP volunteer Dan Woods, who was clad in a turtle costume.
“We went and saw the cows, and saw Dan in the turtle thing run away,” Janessa said. “It was funny.”
Quinn added, “It was really, really, really hot, so we saw the cows and came back.”
Ten-year-old Dessa Scares the Hawk and big sister Destiny, 12, signed up for the 5K and were eager to test their skills against their competitors. After the race, Dessa expressed her gratitude to CRYP volunteer Karen Reed.
“I had fun, and Karen did the 5K with me too,” she said. “I’m happy because I didn’t have to finish alone.”
The 2013 ROTT event concluded with a healthy lunch, prizes and much-deserved celebration. Speed-racing Kendron Bowker received his special Adidas grand prize, and all participants earned the youth project’s special “Run of the Turtles” T-shirts and MP3 players to take home. And, although the CRYP turtle did faint after the race due to heat and exhaustion, he recovered quickly.
“It’s amazing how much our volunteers and staff will push it to the limit to achieve something great for the kids,” Smith said. “We had so much fun. It was a modest turnout, but given that this was our first year, we learned a lot and definitely are hoping to bring the turtles back next year. All in all, it was a great day, and I’m so proud to have been part of it.”
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visit www.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, visit the youth project’s Facebook “Cause” page. All Cause members will receive regular updates through Facebook.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project®, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.