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Catholic Charities run targets hunger

The "Hunger Run" started two years ago as a casual fun-run benefit for Catholic Charities’ food pantries as the agency seeks to help the needy through the summer months.

This year, organizers are adding a bit more competition.

The June 7 event will include a timed race for adults, with medals for the top three runners in men’s and women’s divisions. Also new is a Kids Dash for children 12 and under.

Catholic Charities wants to draw casual and more serious runners to the downtown Omaha event, said Emily Cunningham Kozlik, Catholic Charities’ development director.

"We’re trying to make some changes, take it up a notch and build the run," she said.

Organizers hope the changes will boost the number of walkers and runners from about 150 last year to 300 or 400 this year, she said. Already a successful fundraiser through its sponsorships, donations and registration fees, the 2013 run/walk raised about $15,000 for its food pantry efforts, including sites at St. Martin de Porres in north Omaha, Juan Diego Center in south Omaha and St. Joseph Parish in Walthill.

Through the food pantries and other Catholic Charities’ efforts, the agency last year helped provide food for about 86,000 people, Cunningham Kozlik said.

The spring run is part of Catholic Charities’ annual "Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation" promotion. Demand increases each summer at the food pantries because children are home from school, and many benefit from free or reduced prices for school breakfasts and lunches, Cunningham Kozlik said. Two extra meals a day can be costly, she said.

"It’s an added burden for people having trouble making ends meet."

The Hunger Run includes a 5-kilometer run, 5-kilometer and 1-mile walks and the Kids Dash. The 5-kilometer course starts and ends on the ConAgra Foods campus near 10th and Harney streets in downtown Omaha and stretches north to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. The 1-mile walk circles around the lake at Heartland of America Park, and the Kids Dash will be on a grassy area at ConAgra.

Adults and teens will receive T-shirts designed to keep runners cool. Early registration will help ensure that participants obtain the correct size, Cunningham Kozlik said. Children in the Kids Dash will receive a T-shirt and ribbon.

People also can help as volunteers or sponsors by calling Cunningham Kozlik at 402-829-9260.

Free parking will be available at ConAgra to the first 300 vehicles, and participants are invited to keep the parking spots and attend the Santa Lucia Italian Festival, just to the north at Lewis & Clark Landing, and the Omaha Summer Arts Festival, just to the west on Farnam Street from 10th to 15th streets, Cunningham Kozlik said.

With so many activities, the run could begin a full, fun day downtown for families, she said.

 

WANT TO GO?

 

» WHEN: June 7, check-in 7:30-9 a.m.; 8 a.m. 5-kilometer run; 8:30 a.m. 5-kilometer and 1-mile walks; 9:30 a.m. Kids Dash.

 

» WHERE: Downtown Omaha, beginning at ConAgra Foods’ campus, 10th and Harney streets.

 

» COST: Through June 6, $35 for adults, $25 for youths 13 to 17 and $5 for children 12 and under in the Kids Dash; fees increase $5 on race day for teens and adults.

 

» REGISTER: At race time, or visit online at ccomaha.org, print out a brochure from the website and mail it to Catholic Charities, 3300 N. 60th St., Omaha, NE 68104; or call 402-829-9205 or 402-829-9302.