Southern pays it forward

Orval Howard

The Ronald McDonald House hosted the seventh annual Big Red Show Run on Saturday Sept. 7.

The Big Red Shoe Run first started on the fifteenth anniversary of the Ronald McDonald House. They hosted a 15k run in celebration of the anniversary.

The event has become so popular that they have added other runs, as well as the original 15k.

It began early in the morning with registration at 6:15 a.m. The 15k was the first race which kicked off at 7:15 a.m. The 5k and 1-mile walk/run began soon after 8 a.m. and 8:05 a.m., respectively.

There is passion felt throughout the morning. The runners are participating for a purpose. The atmosphere is uplifting as they run for something bigger than themselves.

Families extended their personal experiences at the Ronald McDonald House to the crowd of spectators and volunteers. The stories told about children being born too early reminds everyone the inspiration for the event. This is the reason the Ronald McDonald House opens their doors to these families.

This event is for people in the community to sit and have food together to show support for families in need.

“We are running for a cause, we are not running for a medal,” said Annette Thurston, executive director of charities.

The Ronald McDonald House first opened in Joplin on July 27, 1998. Their first guest was not long after on Aug. 20 of that year.

Since opening, the Ronald McDonald House has provided a home for more than 3,213 families from 38 states and 2 foreign countries. The house has served people from more than 262 communities in the Four State area of Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, and Kansas.

The Ronald McDonald House is a non-profit organization. They are able to operate because of the volunteers and donations.

Thurston loves for the community to get involved, because it helps them provide homes and “keeps families close by.”

The men and women’s track team, women’s basketball team, and fraternities and sororities from Missouri Southern were among the volunteers at the event.

“It fulfills a dream that the community wants to help out,” said Shirley Snavely, a Ronald McDonald House volunteer.

Snavely is not just talking about the event. There are between 200-400 volunteers for the Ronald McDonald House.

Thurston described the end of the race as a momentary struggle. As the runners approach the finish line, they conquer the steep Jackson Hill.

This challenge represents the struggles the families at the Ronald McDonald House go through. It is a challenge they must face, just like any other in life.

Upon completing the race, the runners receive a card with a story on the back. These are the stories of families who have stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. It brings realization that they run for the children and families who cannot.