The annual Rosy Cheeks 5K run in Mount Airy will be a virtual event this year — but the toys it generates for youths in need will be real and possibly appreciated as never before.
During a tumultuous 2020 that’s seen cancellations of many such events, including the biggest locally — the Mayberry Half-Marathon, 10K and 5K in mid-November — the Rosy Cheeks 5K and Mount Airy Police Department Toy Drive faced the same possible fate.
However, the coronavirus, while curtailing all types of large gatherings, hasn’t interrupted the necessity of making sure kids have a brighter Christmas — which prompted organizers of the Rosy Cheeks 5K and toy drive to soldier on — albeit under a virtual format.
“The Mount Airy Police Department Toy Drive is needed more this year than ever,” Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Director Darren Lewis summed-up regarding the motivation for maintaining a charitable mission sponsored by the city parks and rec unit.
“So we can still meet the needs of the community and provide toys to the underserved children,” he added of the event now in its 12th year.
Event offers flexibility
Lewis explained that due to the ongoing challenges posed this year by COVID-19, organizers were forced to the host the Rosy Cheeks 5K virtually for everyone’s safety.
This format does, however, provide more flexibility than the regular event staged on a Saturday morning at Riverside Park and a nearby greenway.
Rules for the virtual 5K allow participants to complete this year’s race anytime between Monday and next Sunday. They can run/walk the official Rosy Cheeks course or complete the run at one’s own time and location anywhere — even on a treadmill.
The registration fee for the event is an unwrapped toy, a gift for a middle school or high school-age child or a gift card for the Mount Airy Police Department Toy Drive.
Toys can be dropped off from Monday through Sunday at Reeves Community Center, 113 S. Renfro St.
Participants also can buy a 2020 Rosy Cheeks 5K commemorative long-sleeve performance T-shirt at $20 for adults and $15 for youth sizes, and pick up shirts ordered during the same time frame at the center.
The Rosy Cheeks 5K course runs along the Ararat River Greenway and will be decorated for the holidays. Participants are advised to start just past the Riverside Park trailhead and run or walk to a 5K turnaround just before the N.C. 89-Business overpass (1.65 miles out).
Signs will be placed to direct the way.
A website — at http://RosyCheeks5K.itsyourrace.com/register — is available to provide complete instructions on participating in the Rosy Cheeks Virtual 5K Run/Walk and automatically uploading one’s finish time using the IYR Virtual app or manually entering the time.
“We challenge each of you to walk, run or donate to this great event and help out the underserved children in our community,” Lewis urged area residents.
“You can help make a child feel a little extra special during the holidays by donating a gift.”
Costume aspect continuing
One of the unique traits of the Rosy Cheeks 5K is that unlike other runs conducted in a super-serious manner, it always has offered a fun element including some competitors wearing costumes.
Folks have showed up dressed as characters including the Grinch, Santa Claus and various and sundry elves, reindeer, angels, snowmen and more.
The costume aspect is being retained for this year’s virtual event, which offers participants the chance to win awards for the best holiday running outfits.
They simply should have photos snapped of themselves in costume before or after the run for a holiday display in front of Reeves Community Center.
Photos also can be shared on Facebook and Instagram (tag #RosyCheeks5K) for a chance to win prizes sponsored by Food Lion in Mount Airy.
These include a $50 Food Lion gift card each for an adult male and female winner and Food Lion gift bags for a male and female child winner.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.