By LARRY VAUGHT
I’ve been fortunate to participate in a lot of 5K runs that have benefitted a variety of worthy causes. However, I’m especially looking forward to participating in the Dash For Danielle 5K Aug. 26 in Danville.
The event raises money for the Danielle Thomas Scholarship fund which goes to a graduating senior majoring in music at Boyle County High School in memory of Thomas, who was killed by her live-in boyfriend in New York in 2012 who was convicted of murder and is serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison.
Two friends, well-known running photographer Ruby Cline-Eaton and Bourbon Chase teammate Julie Leonard, are both involved with the event.
“Lynette (Thomas) Gullett is an honorary daughter to me as I’ve known her since becoming to Kentucky in 1985 (we were next door neighbors). Lynette was Danielle’ half-sister,” said Cline-Eaton.
Leonard also counts Lynette as one of her bets friends and she got involved in the event when it was still a walk and silent auction. She knew they wanted to make it a 5K.
“Me being a runner and a friend, I said, ‘Let’s make it happen.’ With some help and guidance from Ruby on the logistics side and from my experience running, we put the wheels in motion to make it a 5K,” Leonard said.
Cline-Eaton had an abundance of experience with races and offered to help. Even though she was not an official board member with the race, she found answers by contacting race directors and timers she knew.
“They have managed to get tax exempt and have charity status thanks to Caleb Bottoms. When they asked me about getting in the Wilderness Trace Series, I went to Rick Serres and asked him to add them, “ Cline-Easton said. “Once they were accepted and approved I wanted to make sure they were on track following the rules/regulations, so I became and advisor/monitor.”
Daniell’s mother, Jamie, has taught Leonard’s children.
“Jamie means the world to us and so does Lynette and the others we have on board. Knowing I get to be part of something so much bigger than me and to be making a difference is amazing,” Leonard said. “I didn’t know Danielle but to be a part of it is amazing. To not only help my friends and a senior band kid each year but also in helping raise awareness of domestic violence and to keep Danielle’s memory alive is special.
“Jamie thought what better way than to give back to a band student. Each spring —with the help of band donations as well as from our events — a $1,000 scholarship is awarded to a deserving band student who is graduating and plans on continuing their music career after high school. Danielle was a huge part of the band and loved music.”
One unique aspect of this event is the live butterfly release before the start of the 5K run. No other run in this area offers such a moving tribute in Danielle’s memory.
Short sleeve tech shirts will be included in your registration and guaranteed if registered by Aug. 16th. After that shirts will be on a first come first served basis. Registration fee is $25 while shirts can be purchased for $10. Registration can be made online at https://runsignup.com/race/ky/danville/dashfordanielle5k.
The race starts at 8 a.m. at the Boyle County Fairgrounds. This is a family friendly and dog friendly event, but any children or dogs must remain under supervision at all times and dogs must be leashed at all times.
“We would love for as many as we can reach to come out and help us celebrate Danielle’s life and run or walk our race to help us continue to fund the scholarship for many many years to come,” Leonard said.