COUUMN: Kennett Run: Just who does it serve?

In the Nov. 26 edition of this newspaper, a resident of Kennett Square was quoted in an article entitled Basketball Court Issue Ignites Kennett Square, saying "we have a 5K, a 10K, a 25 K and who knows whatever K. And who does that serve? Most of those people are not from Kennett Square." It was quite obvious that the resident was referring to the Kennett Run.

May 16th 2009 was the 20th Anniversary of The Kennett Run. The Kennett Run was started by another resident of Kennett Square with the goal to create an organization, the net profits from which would be used exclusively for charitable purposes within the borough of Kennett Square and its adjacent townships. The first Kennett Run consisted of 100 runners, 50 volunteer workers, and a small group of spectators.

The 20th anniversary of the Kennett Run consisted of over 2,500 participants, required the work of over 150 volunteers, and by conservative estimates, drew several thousand spectators.

The 2009 Kennett Run was supported by major corporations, as well as by many local businesses, individuals, area service clubs (most notably the Lions and Rotary clubs, and historically the Jaycees and Exchange clubs), and the Kennett YMCA. As in past years, last May's Run also hosted a free party in Nixon Park for the participants, volunteers and thousands of spectators, many of whom were borough residents.

As it has done for 20 years, the Kennett Run distributed the net proceeds from the event to approximately 30 local charitable causes, programs and organizations many, if not most of which, are headquartered in, or very near to, the Kennett Borough, and all of which serve the residents of the borough and its surrounding area. Each year the Kennett Run contributes thousands of dollars towards trail maintenance and other projects in the Park that the entire community enjoys year-round.

For example, in 2009 alone, in addition to the tens of thousands of dollars contributed to local charities and our endowment fund, the non-profit Kennett Run Charities, Inc. contributed over $33,000 toward park trails and infrastructure.

We estimate that in the 20 years since its inception, the Kennett Run has raised nearly $1 million for local charitable causes, and we encourage your readers to visit our website at kennettrun.com for details regarding the race events, including a list of our sponsors and a sampling of the charitable organizations that we support.

It is indeed surprising and unfortunate that the Kennett Square resident who commented on the Run in the Nov. 26 edition of The Kennett Paper did not know who the Kennett Run serves. Perhaps it is because the volunteers and supporters of the Kennett Run walk the walk and skip the talk (pun intended), preferring instead to simply take care of business. Yet let us now be clear, we strive to serve all residents of Kennett Square, including the above-quoted disgruntled borough resident.

Finally, it is true that not all of our volunteers live in the borough of Kennett Square. Some of us live up (or down) the road a piece, in Pocopson, East Marlborough, Kennett or New Garden Townships, or in Toughkenamon, Avondale, Unionville, Chadds Ford or West Grove. And yes, the Kennett Run draws participants from the entire East Coast (and often from the West Coast, mid-west and even countries as far away as Kenya) who come to the Kennett Area, support the local economy, and in some circles 'put Kennett Square on the map'. But, the focus of our charitable giving has always been the Borough of Kennett Square and its environs.

The Kennett Run has something for everyone. We are a totally volunteer organization. Therefore, anyone can enjoy participating in the running and walking events, and anyone can come to the Finish Line in the Park to cheer and join-in the Post-Race Party. Or, most rewardingly, anyone can step forward, join us, and volunteer to work. We are and always have been open to anyone and everyone.

By the way, more basketball courts in Kennett Square? A splendid idea!

Leonard C. Bieberbach is president of Kennett Run Charities, Inc.

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