By Michelle Allenberg
The Strong Kids fundraiser was brought to life with bursts of colour in Niagara Falls, with about, 5,000 participants joining Run or Dye, which raised an undisclosed amount of money.
Run or Dye is the event where colourful powder is thrown dying clothing and skin rainbow colours.
Kathryn Handford, 52, who works in the sponsors and promotions division for Viral Events Canada, says the event has its roots in ancient India, from the festival Holi. Participants during Holi would throw coloured powders on one another and this was a symbol of health and wellness.
Run or Dye is a five-kilometre event that is not timed. Handford says, “You can run, you can walk, you can skip.” She says it is a celebration of fitness, fun and wellness.
Organizers work with charities in the cities where it holds events. Handford says, “We want to make sure the funds go to the community,” when choosing a charity.
Run or Dye partnered with the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign and Handford says they chose this because “Strong Kids program is about health and wellness.” She says Holi goes hand-in-hand with Run or Dye.
Strong Kids is a fundraising campaign aiding YMCA programs. Some of the funded ones teach children how to swim, provide child care, and help get children involved in recreation and physical activities.
The race, from the corner of Upper Rapids Boulevard. and the Niagara Parkway, started at 9 a.m. when 500 to 700 runners were sent off in waves every few minutes. During the race, personnel at dye stations threw coloured powder at participants. Handford says there is one ton of powder used for every 1,300 participants.
Jennifer Howard, 24, of St. Catharines, says her favourite part of the race was “having each checkpoint being a new colour.” Jennifer and her twin sister, Tricia, put together a 12-person team called the Rainbow Rockets. Tricia says they “loved” the race and would do it again next year.
Jennifer Howard says she and her sister participated because they work for the YMCA and knew it was helping Strong Kids. “We decided to do it because we do fundraisers for strong kids.”
Don Lewis, 40, of Paris, Ont., says he enjoyed the race. Although not knowing that Run or Dye was raising money for Strong Kids, he says he feels “good” about it.
After the race, at the Dye Festival, a stage was set up for music and coloured powder to be thrown into the crowd.
Run or Dye depended on the assistance of the Niagara Parks Commission Police and between 100 and 150 volunteers.
Carol Pette, 44, of Niagara Falls, was one of many helping. Pette says she heard about volunteering through their Facebook page and the YMCA. Pette volunteers for the YMCA Niagara Falls. She says she “loved” volunteering as everything went smoothly.
“As far as I know, yeah, I didn’t hear of anything major. Lost keys, lost camera, but other than that.”