Running was popular in Europe long before it caught on in America, which is why most races are measured in kilometers instead of miles and why most of the Pilgrims were eaten by bears. Race to the top of the food chain with today’s Groupon to the Little Hands Make A Big Difference annual 5K on Sunday, October 23, at 9 a.m., with mandatory registration from 7:30 a.m.–8:45 a.m. Choose between the following options:
- For $10, you get a Kids Fun Run/Walk entry for ages 12 and younger (up to a $20 value).
- For $15, you get a 5K run/walk entry for ages 13 and older (up to a $30 value).
Founded by 6-year-old philanthropist Jack O’Neil, Little Hands Make A Big Difference inspires kids and adults alike to give back through its annual 5K race. Upon returning home from his own hospital stay, Jack started the kid-run charity to gift young inpatients with toys that induce cheer like the laughter of a chinchilla being tickled with a feather duster. For each 5K runner who registers to run or walk along the forest trail, a deserving tyke receives a Build-A-Bear to brighten his or her hospital stay. After the 5K walkers and runners have rounded the lake and cartwheeled across the finish line, under-12 competitors run their own, shorter route to compete for awards and show off sneakers they crafted out of old video-game cartridges.
Sponsors of The Little Hands Make A Big Difference 5K include Rockford Health System, Rock Road, Sargento Cheese, and Midwest Orthopaedics, making it possible for each race participant to receive a T-shirt and lifetime supply of team spirit.
Little Hands Make A Big Difference
Like most 6-year olds, Jack O'Neil enjoyed playing with toys; unlike a typical 6-year-old, though, he played with his toys in the hospital. Jack was gearing up for corrective limb-lengthening surgery, a process that affected him long after his successful recovery. Once he was healthy, Jack wanted to make sure other hospital-bound kids had toys to play with. Jack began holding charitable lemonade stands, using the proceeds to buy toys. Over time, his pastime morphed into his current charity, Little Hands Make A Big Difference. Powered by fundraisers such as an annual 5K, the kid-run organization delivers Build-A-Bears and other toys to sick tots, fueling their play and filling their imaginations with geometric shapes. For more information, see the organization’s blog.