WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Runners in Luzerne County got on their marks early Saturday morning and they weren’t just racing for fun. A 5K benefitted children experiencing struggles in their lives.
“Today’s an awesome day. The weather is beautiful,” United Way of Wyoming Valley president Bill Jones said.
Headphones in, running sneakers on. At least 200 runners and walkers made their way to Public Square in Wilkes-Barre for the second annual 5K for United Way Run and Walk.
“For all these people to come out and want to participate in our event, it’s only our second year of doing this. We’re just tickled,” Jones said.
The 5K for United Way has been accepted as an official event of the Keystone State Games. Winners in each category received Keystone State Games medals.
“It’s pretty awesome. For this, we had a couple hills that weren’t too bad though, but overall it was actually a pretty good run,” men’s winner Mike Gilbert said.
“It felt good. I had a girl running next to me. We were pushing each other the whole way. Kind of got a little lost together so it’s really nice to have comradery with your competition so it keeps you motivated when it’s hot like this,” women’s winner Tiffany Leventhal said.
Leventhal is a former cross-country track runner. Saturday, she was the first female runner to cross the finish line.
“I try to keep up with the 5Ks as much as I can and I coach so I want to set a good example for my kids,” Leventhal said.
Runners tell Eyewitness News it’s easy to complete the race when you know you’re running for a good cause.
“Our focus is on the issues on childhood poverty and that is just a huge issue in our community so every little fundraiser that we do makes a difference in the lives of children and that’s why we do what we do,” Jones said.
“I like to give back to the community and we travel. I’m from Honesdale. We like to travel to Wilkes-Barre to run this race and I think the United Way is a fabulous organization and I just want to show my support,” Leventhal said.
And a little bit of Vitamin D didn’t hurt anyone. Runners say this was perfect weather to run a 5K, despite some of the difficulties along the way.
“The weather was nice today. Yeah if this was last week, I don’t know if I would have been able to run as fast, so it’s a great morning,” Gilbert said.
All of the proceeds will help the work of United Way.