Clouds of colored cornstarch will permeate the air on Oct. 20 as legions of runners participate in the second Color Me Rad 5K to overtake Blacksburg. Inspired by the Hindu Holi festival of colors, this 3.1-mile race has a twist—participants will be showered with blasts of color throughout the race.
“A lot of people think that running is boring,” said Gretchen Willard, director of public relations for Color Me Rad. “We find when we add in the color and music and get people out together, they have a great time.”
Color Me Rad is collaborating with Special Olympics Virginia to put on the race, which will begin at 10 a.m., releasing heats of runners every 10 minutes over the subsequent hour.
“It’s been a very good partnership for us,” said Roy Zeidman, senior vice president of marketing and development for Special Olympics Virginia.
According to Zeidman, a small percentage of the race fee goes toward Special Olympics Virginia. Runners can register online at colormerad.com individually or with a group. The $45 registration fee includes a Color Me Rad shirt, a color bomb and other items.
“The whole purpose of Color Me Rad is that we want it to bring fitness—fun into fitness,” Willard said, describing the race as “a chance to let loose” and “get outside of the things that you do on a day-to-day basis.”
While the Special Olympics predominantly derives their funds from volunteers within the program, money raised during Color Me Rad goes towards training their athletes and entering them into competitions.
According to reports from last year, Zeidman said, “88 percent of the funds raised for Special Olympics go directly to program services, which is putting on the competitions, preparing for those competitions, helping get athletes engaged in our program.”
The remaining 12 percent was split between fundraising and general administration—nine and three percent, respectively.
“Color Me Rad provides us with what is basically a no-risk-to-us way to come in and work with the community,” Zeidman said. The funds, he said, “will help us grow our program even more.”
Zeidman estimated there are about one thousand Special Olympics athletes in Blacksburg, Christiansburg and the surrounding areas. Approximately 650-700 of these athletes are actively engaged in programs throughout the year. Special Olympics Virginia will be returning to the area in February, when they hold their basketball regional tournament at Cassell Coliseum. The same month, there will be an annual Polar Plunge benefit held in Radford, though the event is open to Virginia Tech students.
“Tech students are actively engaged with us,” Zeidman said, “and we appreciate the learning and understanding that you all take away from interacting with our athletes.”