Kids’ Fun Run added to a Burrillville 5K making strides in prevention

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BURRILLVILLE – A fall race through the streets Burrillville is expanding its reach in 2022, adding an event for young participants to a 5K that has helped to make strides toward preventing youth substance abuse in town for the past five years.

Burrillville Prevention Action Coalition’s 5K walk/run is set to take off on Sunday, Nov. 6 and will include a Kids’ Fun Run this year, planned for youth participants age 10 and under.

A fundraising event for the organization, the annual 5K directly supports youth prevention initiatives in Burrillville, including prevention education, a coalition comprised of prevention-minded students, the BPAC scholarship, and substance-free events.

The new Fun Run will take off prior to the traditional 5K, featuring separate runs for participants age 6 and under, and those age 7 through 10. The fun runners will have a much shorter route, completing a lap around the high school soccer field.

“We had a couple parents last year inquiring about doing a Fun Run, so we decided to add it,” explained BPAC Coordinator Monica Blanchette.

Registration costs just $5 for the youth runners, with the youngest to race first, starting at 8:30 a.m.

And the Fun Run is just the latest addition to a race that improves every year as it sends both prevention advocates – and those who just enjoy a good race – on a mostly flat 3.1 mile loop along Whipple Avenue, Oakland School Street and Victory Highway.

Last year, BPAC organizers began using wave starts for the race, one for runners and one for walkers, and the two groups also have slightly different routes in 2022. Walkers – typically the smaller of the two groups – will head out to Whipple Avenue from the starting point, ultimately completing 2.8 miles. Runners will begin on East Avenue and complete a full 5K of 3.1 miles.

“It worked great last year,” Blanchette said. “We just kind of avoid that weird congestion at the top of Whipple.”

This year, packet pickup has also changed, and will take place the day before the race off-site at New Rhode Nutrition at 1452 Broncos Highway on Saturday, Nov. 5 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those unable to make it for pick up the day before must get their race packets at the event between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m.

The race takes off at 9 a.m. from Burrillville High School at 425 East Ave., and those who come to compete will see a satisfying end, with timed results that include awards for the fastest male and fastest female runners. Finish times are posted on the race website, so all who complete the route can see how they placed.

In 2021, 15-year-old Devin Richard of Harrisville came in first place, completing the run in 5 minutes and 48 seconds. The top female finisher was 13-year-old Alyssa Parenteau of Smithfield, coming in at 6 minutes and 18 seconds.

And their efforts brought a needed boost to a worthy local cause. Blanchette said the 5K raised around $3,000 in 2021, funds used to provide $1,000 scholarships to two graduating seniors from Burrillville who participated in the youth coalition: Emily Colburn and Kaitlyn Pristawa.

The coordinator said that this year, the organization is hoping to raise funds to send a group kids to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America training seminar in Dallas, Texas in July. Last year, BPAC sent three students to a CADCA conference in Washington, DC.

“There’s a lot of kids who are interested in going,” Blanchette said, noting that the seminar teaches the prevention-minded youth about coalition development and allows them to brainstorm ideas for how to encourage their peers to keep clear of substance abuse.

“Training these kids in how to be a coalition is really beneficial,” she said.

The increased interest in a CADCA event corresponds with a growing participation in BPAC among students. Blanchette noted that last year, the coalition’s Sunday evening youth meeting averaged between 6-10 kids, and this year, between 10-14 show up each week.

She’s hopeful that with addition of the Fun Run, race participation will also increase, allowing the organization to continue growing its influence and presence with Burrillville students. With less than two weeks remaining before the event, 48 participants have signed up so far, and the race typically attracts more than 100.

Registration for the event is now open and costs $35 – or $20 for students – age 18 and under. Learn more and register at https://runsignup.com/Race/Info/RI/Harrisville/BurrillvilleBronco5k.

Blanchette noted that registrations may still be accepted the day of the event, but t-shirts are limited and early registration is preferred.

Those unable to run who would like to donate, or who would like to sponsor a runner can also do so on the race website.

Blanchette said BPAC is always looking for students in need of volunteer hours to help out at the race.

“We’ll need teenagers to set up and to help wave runners along,” she said.

Those interested should email Blanchette at mblanchette@Burrillville.org.

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