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Hurdling for hope

Event volunteers from The United Way, House of Manna and West Dakota Parent & Family Resource Center check in participants for the inaugural Bakken 5K Inflatable Fun Run. Photo by James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press 1 / 3
Adam Braunberger and Brooke Fisher of Watford City navigate "The Maze" during the Bakken 5K Inflatable fun run. Photo by James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press2 / 3
A young participant launches himself off the "Tower and Slide" obstacle during the inaugural Bakken 5K Inflatable run. Photo submission by Marlena Staudinger.3 / 3

In its more than 50 years of existence, the United Way of Dickinson has brought the community together to focus on the most important needs—building partnerships, forging consensus and leveraging resources to make a measurable difference.

And on Saturday it achieved that goal as the United Way, House of Manna and West Dakota Parent & Family Resource Center hosted the inaugural Bakken Inflatable 5K at the Patterson Lake Recreational Area's Crooked Crane Trail.

"This entire event is volunteer-based and supported by our local community. A lot of people want to get outside and be active, and now, we have this wonderful trail that we can use that provides a lot more opportunities to host events like this in the future," Nichole De Leon, executive director of United Way of Dickinson, said.

The three nonprofit organizations who service the greater southwest area of North Dakota partnered with a variety of local sponsors to host the family friendly event, as hundreds came out for a cool morning of fitness, music, obstacles and laughter.

"We're from Watford City, and we were looking for a 5K on Facebook and this one popped up and we didn't mind driving down. I think the inflatable part made it worth it," Brooke Fisher, a 5K participant said. "Now that we're done, we're just going to walk around and check this place out, cause we've never been here. I really enjoyed the event and absolutely love this location."

Proceeds from the event will benefit the three local nonprofits, who pride themselves on helping locally, receiving contributions locally and spending locally.

"We were going to pay for a 5K anyway, so for it to go to a good cause. I think it is amazing," said Adam Braunberger, another 5K participant. "We had a friend that was going to come, but she thought because of the inflatables that her kids couldn't do it. Now that we're here, I know her and her kids would have loved it. There were even kids passing us."

Robyn Estes, a volunteer from House of Manna spoke about the growing interest across the country and specifically in Dickinson with fun runs for causes.

"This event is for anybody and everybody. You see people walking, jogging and running, and even the kids are enjoying themselves. Opportunities like these are great resources not just for raising funds, but for letting the community know that we're here for them."

Local vendors offered a variety of sweet and savory food and drink to participants, as Bloodsaw Entertainment provided DJ services. Family Fare West donated bananas to keep participants' magnesium levels up following the grueling and fun event.

"Our organization, and those like us, depend on donations from the community to do what we do. Fundraisers like this provide us the opportunity to help the community. Everything stays local with Dickinson people helping Dickinson people" Marlena Staudinger, a board member with House of Manna said. "House of Mana is always accepting donations, and all our information can be found online. With winter coming up, we have a lot of people coming in needing clothes and jackets, and we'd just like to remind the community that we're always open," she added.

With relays departing every 15 minutes, runners experienced the thrills and spills of many of the obstacles. The tower and slide obstacle appeared to be one of the most popular as many of the children circled back and ran through it a second time.

Stacy Kilwein, the coordinator at The West Dakota Parent & Family Resource Center, said the event met all expectations, bringing families together, away from the television and computer screens, to enjoy the brisk late-summer weather.

"The Bakken Inflatable 5K showed us that everyone is a kid at heart." Kilwein said. "The course saw participants enjoying each of the seven inflatable obstacle stations, and the best part is, it

all went toward a great cause."

The event is scheduled to become an annual event, and locals are encouraged to participate in next year's event.

To learn more about the United Way of Dickinson visit their website at dickinsonunitedway.com or call 701-483-1233.

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