Runs are in vogue now. Every church, nonprofit, community organization and social club seems to organize one. There's a 5k somewhere on pretty much any given weekend, and thematic marathons are advertising on every channel. There are Fun Runs and Spartan Races; courses with zombies and routes that douse runners in color. Everybody's running, it seems, and each for their own reasons. So what's ours?
When we launched the annual Run for Hope three years ago, we had a few things in mind. As we expanded over the years, it became apparent that we needed a fundraiser to support initiatives like Operation Back 2 School. Helping more students meant ordering more backpacks which meant more strain on donors who were already being unbelievably generous. A 5k seemed like a good way to close the gap between those donors and our increased costs.
“We were told a couple years ago that if you had a great relationship with your cities — I think we do — and if you have a great relationship with your school district — I think we do — then you can have a great event. Matter of fact, the challenge was about 1,000. Could you actually put about 1,000 runners into that first event? That would be a blow away event. This community blew right past it. We were 1,400,” Executive Director Scott Shepard told 6 Stones supporters at the Catalyst of Hope luncheon earlier this month. “This last year, you guys jumped all the way to almost 2,600 participating. They came, they got healthy, they exercised. We raised a little bit of money, but at the same time we came together as a community and we just enjoyed one another. We celebrated and had a good time, and then out of that we found a way to bring even more hope.”
The main goal at 6 Stones has always been and will always be to unite this community and inspire it to do great things together. Whether we're renovating homes or bringing the joy of Christmas to needy families, we want to serve and develop side by side. Providing for a need is one thing; empowering our neighbors to cover each others' needs is a another entirely. We don't just host the Run for Hope so that we can pay for backpacks, pencils, hammers, and paintbrushes. We run because it unites us with the real power behind 6 Stones: the men and women who run beside us in all things. It's a moment to join together, to strain for a common goal. It's a visible testament to the incredible love and dedication it takes to do the things that happen on a monthly basis here in Hurst, Euless, and Bedford. It's impossible to ignore the fact that this little organization somehow draws thousands of supporters to run for us. Their passion has opened the door for us to equip the next generation to run toward the future.
“We knew as an organization that we wanted to create a scholarship inside of [the Run],” Shepard said. “So we have the Dr Gene and Mary Kay Buinger Scholarship. We awarded that one after that first year. But last year, it began to take root. It began to take hold. Not only did have that one scholarship, but we had another scholarship come forth with Lisa Carr, through the Buinger Center. And then we had two more scholarships show up because of Ken Thompson and the Thompson Group at Classic Chevrolet. This year, we've already got another two scholarships that are coming forth from Chophouse Burgers.”
That's a total of six scholarships for HEB ISD students. Six students who will be that much closer to a higher education that they would have struggled to afford on their own. Students with their own hopes and dreams and desires who now know that they have a community behind them. These scholarships are more than financial aid: they are a reminder of the unique and wonderful strength of this community. A community that will flex its literal and figurative muscles once more when they gather to run on May 14th.
“We hope that this year, you'll come run with us. Or hang out, at least. Maybe some of you aren't runners, but come hang out with us,” Shepard said. “Evaluate what you can do and what your organization can do to put scholarships — put kids — into position to win in the future. We hope you'll come with us.”