Brady Beckham has fond memories of running down Main Street as a child, and he’s not alone.
The annual Kids Classic Fun Run, scheduled for Saturday at Missouri Southern State University, has promoted the importance of physical fitness and recreational activity for the past 25 years.
Established in 1987 by Joplin educator Charles Spradling, it began as an after-school running program at Kelsey Norman Elementary School. The first official run was held at Junge Field. Today, the event is still going strong.
Along with his wife, Chanti, Beckham is in his first year of organizing the Kids Classic. He was a participant as a child.
“I know when my daughter is in kindergarten, she will be running it,” Beckham said. “And now I think we are at the point where we are seeing the kids of kids who used to run that are now entering the race.”
The Kids Classic has been cared for by the community, he said, in that parents and former participants have volunteered their time to make it possible.
The purpose of the event is to promote physical activity at an early age, and to develop an early awareness of associating running and other physical activity with fun and enjoyment.
While the winners will be posted, the degree of competition is completely up to the individual runners. In other words, participants may walk if they want.
The Kids Classic Fun Run is open to children in kindergarten through sixth grade, and volunteers expect to see up to 950 registrations by Saturday morning.
Registration will be held at Fred Hughes Stadium 30 minutes before each race. The first 800 to sign up will receive a free T-shirt.
The event will start at 9:15 a.m. with the mile run for sixth-graders, followed at 9:40 a.m. by fourth- and fifth-graders. Children in grades two and three are set to run the half-mile at 10:20 a.m., and a quarter-mile run at 10:50 a.m. will be for kindergartners and first-graders.
The event is sponsored by the Joplin Roadrunners, The Joplin Globe, The Run Around, Sam’s Club, and Freeman Rehabilitation and Sports Center.
EACH PARTICIPANT will receive a certificate, and the top six winners in each division for boys and girls will receive medals.