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‘Safer Way Virtual 5K’ to benefit Lee Health Foundation

By Staff | Apr 16, 2020

Cooped up in the house? Need a way to stretch those legs for a good cause?

Cape Coral residents and beyond can tie up those shoe laces, get some fresh air (on their own) and benefit local medical professionals all at once.

The Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department has created the “Safer Way Virtual 5K” to help local healthcare workers fight COVID-19 and provide members of the community a way to stay active while being part of the fight.

The virtual 5K begins April 24 and runs through May 4. Participants will have 11 days to complete the 5K run/walk and record their results. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Lee Health Foundation.

“We understand this may be a difficult time for people,” said Parks and Recreation Director Kerry Runyon, in a statement. “Since the Parks and Recreation Department is currently unable to host our community typical events, we wanted to offer a virtual 5K to keep people in the community moving and feeling connected. This event helps our frontline healthcare workers in the process.”

The idea came about when the parks and rec department began cancelling events for the month of April and the popular Yacht Club Sprint Triathlon in May.

Staff began throwing virtual ideas around and a 5K caught the attention of Kyle Karczewski, senior recreation specialist with the Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department, who oversees events at the Yacht Club.

“Our recreation department started sharing virtual events with each other and the virtual 5K stood out to me as a possible solution to make up for the triathlon,” he said. “It has been a department wide effort to help keep the community active.”

Participants can register for $10 online and can donate more if they wish to support Lee Health. It might feel good for members of the community to get out and blow off a little steam during these trying times.

“It gives people something to look forward to, possibly something to train for,” Karczewski said. “Exercise also helps with stress levels, which we could all use being cooped up with our family for 30 days. It also brings the community together to support our workers who are on the front line of this crisis.”

The 5K does not have to be completed in one day, participants can take their time. Though if you want to be considered a “division leader” it must completed in one heat.

“Runners can take multiple days if they wish; the goal is to get people active,” Karczewski said. “We are asking for some type of proof which is outlined as a screenshot from a run tracking app. However, for the 90 percent of us that cannot hop off the couch and run three miles, we encourage people to complete the 5K in the safest way possible. The weather has been very warm lately so please do not push yourselves to the level of heat exhaustion.”

It’s also the perfect social distancing activity.

“Competitors have an 11-day time frame to run or walk the 5K in their neighborhoods at their own pace,” Karczewski said. “I hope participants will move to the opposite side of the road if they are coming up on fellow walkers.”

Lee Health was to sponsor the triathlon in May for the fifth consecutive year, so it only seemed perfect to support the system that is putting it all on the line every day to keep residents safe.

“Lee Health has been a great partner for us,” Karczewski said. “We also wanted to pick an organization that the community would get behind, and we picked the right group.”

To register, visit www.capecoral.net and look for the “Safer Way Virtual 5K” on the home page.

– Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj