Get a move on: Silverton Health Fun Run celebrates 30th anniversary

May 2013 Posted in Sports, Your Health
Steve Ritchie and his daughter Shea in the 1998 Silverton Hospital Fun Run

Steve Ritchie and his daughter Shea in the 1998 Silverton Hospital Fun Run

By Steve Ritchie 

Silverton is a town of many celebrations. The Silverton Fine Arts Festival celebrates a variety of art forms. The Silverton Poetry Festival celebrates the spoken and written word. Homer Davenport Days celebrate a favorite son, cartoons and creative uses of couches. The Pet Parade celebrates all manner of beloved, furry and not so furry creatures.

So it should come as no surprise that Silverton also has a well-established event that is something of a community ode to the joys of exercise and physical fitness: the Silverton Hospital Fun Run.

On Saturday, May 11, the day before Mother’s Day,  hundreds of community members will gather to participate in one of the largest fun runs in this area. This year is the 30th annual event.

Like many traditions, the Fun Run had a fairly humble beginning back in 1984.

Dr. Mike Grady was brainstorming with a group of Silverton Hospital folks, trying to come up with an idea for drawing attention to National Hospital Week. Dr. Grady had belonged to a running club in Fresno, Calif., before coming to Silverton, and had been involved in road runs there. So, he offered to organize a fun run for the hospital.

That first fun run wasn’t quite the production it is now. Dr. Grady remembers how he got up early that day to mark the course and put out traffic cones, then briefed the volunteers on what to do. He not only fired the gun to start the race, and ran the race, but also announced the results, passed out prizes and cleaned up.

“There couldn’t have been too many people running because I came in 11th and I was never a great runner,” said Grady, laughing at the memory of that first year. “I’m sure it was a modest turnout. But it has become one of the many community celebrations here in Silverton, (one with) a bit of an athletic flavor.”

Elizabeth Bohnstedt, director of Guest Relations for Silverton Health, was there that first year, and has been at every Fun Run since as a walker, organizer and volunteer. She takes pride in how the event has grown and says it means a lot to the Silverton community.

“The first year we had about 45 participants,” Bohnstedt said. “Coordinating the Fun Run has given our organization the opportunity to showcase new programs. We have offered massages and for many years our walkers, runners and fans could purchase a nice pancake breakfast that was cooked and served by our employees and administrative staff. As our numbers increased, the breakfast was harder to manage … but we still have nice refreshments available.

“The Fun Run is all about family, friends, a healthy amount of competition and a 30-year tradition.”

Volunteer Services Director Judy Schmidt has been in charge of the Fun Run for about the last 15 years, and she thinks the event is a galvanizing experience for those connected with Silverton Hospital, as well as the local community.

“Our providers, staff, volunteers and patients have always been very supportive,” Schmidt said. “They get excited about our shirt design, appreciate our sponsors and are always willing to volunteer on the day of the race.

“I think the Fun Run unites our hospital family in a common goal towards better health and wellness. Plus it is just a lot of fun!”

Judging by the growth in the Fun Run turnout, Schmidt must be right that people enjoy the event. It has grown from 45 participants that first year to a record of 910 runners and walkers a few years ago. In 2012 approximately 800 people participated.

Fun run registration and race

Silverton Hospital, 342 Fairview St.
Saturday, May 11

8 a.m. 1-mile race for kids
10 years old and younger

8:30 a.m. warm-up led
by Silverton Fitness

8:45 a.m. 5K Run and Walk
Advance registration:
$20 with T-shirt ($15 without)
by mail through May 8 or at
Silverton Hospital until May 10

6:45 to 7:45 a.m. day-of-race registration
costs $25 with T-shirt; $20 without

Participants may register online: or
Awards are given to the top three
placers in each five-year age group.

“My goal is to reach 1,000 participants,” Schmidt said.

Both Grady and Schmidt note that the Fun Run is very “welcoming” to all sorts of runners and walkers – young children, parents with strollers, families walking together, older folks – who enjoy exercise. While it has the element of competition and age group awards, the Hospital Fun Run also has a sizeable number of participants who have little interest in competition and are just happy to do an organized run/walk.

Schmidt mentions, as an example of this low-key attitude of many participants, the group of Fun Run walkers who one year stopped during the event at some of the yard sales along the way and returned to the finish well after the timing had been discontinued and the results announced.

At one point in the event’s development, the turnout grew so large that Schmidt had concerns about the start of the run.

“As our numbers grew, there were times when I held my breath at the starting line, hoping that no one was trampled,” Schmidt said. “We had a few scrapes and tears prior to adding the 1-mile race. At the suggestion of a community member, we added a 1-mile race in 1998 which provided a more appropriate race for our youth 10 years and younger. Each year the number of youth participating has grown, with over 90 involved this past year.”

Schmidt notes that Peter Allen and Portrait Express have been providing – free of charge – photos of event participants for the past 13 years. The photos help create great memories and enhance the family flavor of the Fun Run, she said.

“Any event like the Fun Run takes a lot of planning and work, but Kay (Seiler) and I truly enjoy (organizing) this event. We have been fortunate to work with incredible volunteers throughout the years . . . and have had incredible support from sponsors, city police, providers and staff. We invite everyone to join us on May 11 as we celebrate our 30th Annual Fun Run.”

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