Three years ago 9 year old Connor Johnston ran his first 5K. Having been diagnosed from birth with cystic fibrosis, the only two athletic competitions he could participate in were running and swimming. He fell in love with running during a Striders and Riders event and approached them to put on a run and raise money for cystic fibrosis research. A cause that continues to this day.
“Growing up with C.F. I started researching and found out that there wasn’t a lot of fundraising to help cure the disease,” Connor said. “I know a lot of people with C.F. and thought that it would be good to help them in their fight that I am going through with them.”
A group of 68 runners came out to the town plaza early April 6 morning with other friends and family cheering them on. The course began just north of the plaza, went up School of Mines road, circled around the back of the New Mexico Tech campus before returning them to the finish line. Ages ranged from five to 70.
Orlando Paz has chosen to retire in Socorro and is also a member of the local Couch to 5K running group. He was among the eldest of participants and was in good spirits after crossing the finish line.
“An event for charity is always good plus it keeps you moving,” he said. “For example I was just going to come out for an easy run then some friends started passing me and that got me going to push myself. Runs like this are great and we encourage everyone to come out and have a good time.”
At the end of the course food and refreshments were available and Connor’s mother Jeanne, along with the Striders and Riders, organized a raffle at the plaza gazebo to give out prizes and raise more money for the cause. Jeanne was very proud and taking pictures when her son crossed the finish line.
“Three years ago Connor ran his first 5K,” she said. “He was going to just run the mile portion but took off and kept going. When he was diagnosed with low platelets at the age of five pretty much all he could do is run or swim. The fact that he loved it so much lead to his idea of approaching the Striders and Riders to raise money for C.F. research.”
The president of Striders and Riders, John Leeper is typically organizing things at the finish line during races. Due to the large support of volunteers he was able to hit the course himself.
“You know, the police and city volunteers are so great about something like this that all you need to do is ask,” he said. “Not everywhere do you get this type of community support that we have here in order to put on this type of event. It’s really special to see so many people come out for a good cause.”
While being a part of the Easter Sunday plaza festivities with a fun run on April 20, the final race of the Striders and Riders spring season will be their “555K” for Cinco de Mayo that will take place May 4th at the EMRTC Snake.
Top male and female finishers:
Samuel Burleigh - 19.37.00
Kirsten Arnell - 20.55.00