Record-Breaking Turnout for IAAPA Footprints From the Heart 5K Run/1-Mile Walk
The 15th Annual IAAPA Footprints From the Heart 5K Run/1-Mile Walk Benefiting Give Kids The World Village took place on Thursday morning at SeaWorld Orlando, a new location for the event. The run’s turnout was record breaking, with 378 total runners, and doubled its monetary donations from $30,000 in 2019 to $60,000 this year, according to Steven Amos, vice president of advancement at Give Kids The World, a whimsical nonprofit resort in Kissimmee, Florida, that provides weeklong, cost-free vacations to critically ill children and their families.
“It’s good to see everybody again,” he said of the reunion. “This industry is all about relationships and friendships.”
Participants ran through the SeaWorld park, experiencing its sights and sounds, including music and holiday decorations. One family, the Balroops, came out to run with their two young daughters and took a detour for a photo op at Sesame Street Land since their older daughter, Serena, is a big Elmo fan. It was their second run as a group, but it was the first time for the youngest Balroop, who experienced the race from her stroller.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Simmy Balroop. “It’s a tradition now.” The first-place female runner, Diane Williams, director of meetings and events at IAAPA, placed for the first time after participating in the event for many years. This year she was training for a marathon, so she credits that effort for her victory. She also said she loves the cause and really enjoyed the new setting at SeaWorld.
“When do you get an opportunity to run through a park when its closed and there’s nobody else there?” she said. “We’re very blessed to have wonderful partners and be able to do these types of things.”
She added that she was happy and proud to support Give Kids The World and its mission. She emphasized the importance of highlighting the Village’s message within the attractions industry and already can’t wait for next year.
The first-place male runner, however, was a first-time participant in the race. Brian Kosmac, who works for The Gravity Group, a company in Cincinnati, Ohio, that specializes in wooden roller coasters, was breathless but beaming as he crossed the finish line.
“Great course, beautiful weather,” he exclaimed. “I hope they do it here again next year.”
The biggest group to run this year was Betson Enterprises, an arcade video game distributor, which showed up with a group of 65 runners, all in matching shirts. For father and daughter Steven and Britannie Betti, it was their second run, and they finished together.
“We start motivating like six months before,” said Brittanie Betti about the team’s large turnout.
Marathon Man himself, 2022 IAAPA Chairman of the Board Ken Whiting of Whiting’s Foods, also came out to show his support. As a running enthusiast, he knew he had to come and participate.
“I ran the race for the first time probably five years ago,” Whiting said. “It’s a record-breaking registration and runners total [this year], and I think that has a lot to do with everybody looking to get back together in person.”
The medals, which featured the art of a Make-A-Wish child named Kellen, portrayed darkness transitioning into a bright rainbow, which Kellen said represented her life before and after her experiences at Give Kids The World Village. With crowds forming as people finished the race and Kellen’s special medals being handed out to everyone, the energy was undeniably, all-around and amazing. One runner, Patti James with Jack Rouse Associates (JRA), literally danced as she passed the finish line.
“You know, music was going, so why not?” James said of her victory dance. “Finish with a bang.”