Founded in 1893, Sheltering Arms Senior Services has devoted more than a century to providing Houston’s elderly population with care, advocacy, and community support. Despite its long history, the nonprofit organization is only looking forward. Between 2011 and 2012, it provided seniors with 128,658 hours of personal-care assistance—including meal preparation and housekeeping—and fed 2,182 seniors a nutritious meal. And their specially designed Adult Day Center, which provides top-notch care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Factor in the organization's more than 20 Houston-area senior centers, where staffers offer recreational activities, health education, and legal advocacy, and it is clear that Sheltering Arms is only building upon its 120-year foundation.
Sheltering Arms' mission begins with its committed corps of staff members and volunteers. Certified nurses’ aides customize and implement home-care plans that include light housekeeping, meal prep, and medication reminders. Social workers advocate for members at risk of being institutionalized by managing their financial and health casework. Volunteers make daily safety checks on seniors who are living alone and organize arts-and-crafts classes, game nights, and dances.
As the sun sets and darkness blankets the city, runners, joggers, and walkers of all ages run, jog, or walk through the Neon Dash, a luminescent jaunt that benefits a chosen charity partner. To the soundtrack of adrenaline-boosting tunes, participants clad in white T-shirts make their way through a glowing foam and bubble zone and four glow zones, each filled with volunteers armed with a different color of intense UV neon. Once across the finish line, they'll attend the After Glow Party, which bathes them in the otherworldly illumination of black lights and the accompanying joy of wearing a self-satisfied smile as they play games and enjoy entertainment for the rest of the night.
If the Color Fun Fest 5K were televised, it might have viewers wondering if someone had messed with their TVs' color settings. That's because, at one-kilometer intervals across the race course, staffers shower runners with neon powders, transforming them into a kind of collective stampeding rainbow, which is illuminated by powerful black lights during night waves. But participants won't find a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow—or, for that matter, a podium; the 5K run is noncompetitive and doesn't track times. Instead, they'll step into a lively finish-line festival—with music during the run, vendors, and a DJ-led after party—where colors fly through the air and stopwatches are smashed like piñatas.
The celebration draws inspiration from Holi, a festival of colors primarily celebrated in India and Nepal. In the communal spirit of that festival, Color Fun Fest 5K helps raise funds for and awareness of local charities, non-profits, and local businesses. The event also encourages family participation, with free admission for kids age 12 and under and a daytime run.
Color Me Rad stages 5K races that transform runners into mobile rainbows by launching cheerful barrages of colored cornstarch. Each color station along the racetrack flings a new, nontoxic pigment at passersby, who wear white shirts to enhance the chromatic onslaught's costuming effects. Brilliant neon-blue, green, purple, and yellow clouds dapple participants along the way, and the race concludes with a prismatic finish-line finale as sprinters chuck colors at each other in celebration. The race's noncompetitive credo shifts the emphasis from speed to silliness, and a portion of its proceeds go to local charities.
Upon registration, each runner collects a Color Me Rad T-shirt, sunglasses, sponsor gifts, and a race bib. Though they don't receive a gift packet, runners younger than 8 years old can sprint for free, provided they have a waiver signed by a guardian and won't give in to demands for gold from confused leprechauns.