Dear Boomtown Runners, Volunteers and the Running Community,
By now all of you are likely aware of the horrific tragedy that struck Joplin on May 22. While search and rescue efforts are still underway, it is already the deadliest single tornado in the United States in over 60 years.
With our community's resources stretched thin, and the safety of our volunteers and runners top of mind, the Boomtown Run Executive Committee met this morning to consider this year's event. The first and foremost question we asked ourselves was whether it was possible to provide a quality event on a safe, secure course under the circumstances. We do not feel this is possible. This was a difficult decision and not one made lightly. Factors considered included:
� Much of the course goes through the hardest hit areas.
� One of two major hospitals was destroyed. The other, Presenting Sponsor Freeman Health System, is, and will continue to be, stretched very thin in the wake of this disaster.
� Other critical resources, such as the Joplin Police department and city employees, are depleted. Once search and rescue efforts are over, city personnel will be turning their effort to disaster clean up.
� Many of our volunteers have either lost homes and loved ones, or are assisting those who have. More than 100 of these volunteers work for the United Way's partner agencies, and their focus is on providing critically needed services.
We know runners are a caring, compassionate community. Many of you have expressed your concern and wanting to know how you can help. Several from out of state have said -- run or no run -- you are coming to help clean up. Therefore, rather than cancel this year's event, we are transforming it into something bigger. We are asking all runners (registered or not), race volunteers and sponsors to gather at the starting line, Memorial Hall (currently serving as a medical triage center), at 6:30 am on Saturday, June 11, for a Day of Caring. We will hold a brief memorial service and then spread out into the community to provide assistance.
Of course, we have already incurred expenses for the 2011 event. Once paid, any and all remaining proceeds from this year's event will be donated directly to the United Way of Southwest Missouri & Southeast Kansas to assist with tornado recovery efforts. If you would like to make a donation by "registering" for this year event, registration is still open at www.boomtownrun.com.
Former Olympian and inspirational leader Jeff Galloway, inventor of the Jeff Galloway RUN-WALK-RUN™ method, will be on hand to help lead us that morning. We are also working on a plan for Jeff to speak Friday night, June 10 at Memorial Hall on the timely subject of using running to overcome adversity.
Details still must be worked out and updates will follow, but we hope you will join us in making a statement to the Four States, and the nation, that a determined group of runners can contribute something positive to this immense tragedy.
We firmly believe that the Boomtown Half Marathon, like our community, will come back bigger, better and stronger than ever as a result of recent events. We appreciate your continued prayers, and look forward to meeting you at the start line.
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