In 1987, Laramie ninth-grader Hapi Patterson was battling leukemia, so her classmates started planning a 5k race, a fundraiser to help her family offset costly medical expenses.
Patterson did not live long enough to see the race, but it was still hosted in her honor and was then hosted annually, with proceeds being dedicated to community members in need.
“It’s always said she loved to run,” Laramie Middle School teacher and race director Travis Miller said. “She loved being outdoors and she loved rainbows — so that’s always just been the theme of these 5k (races).”
The 31st annual Hapi-ness 5k is shaping up to be likely one of Laramie’s largest 5ks of the season.
“It’s going to be a great race this year,” Miller said. “We have a field of over 200 people so far right now.”
With registration set at $15 for children 15 and younger and $20 for adults, proceeds from the event will go to victims of the Wade’s Mobile Manor fire, which destroyed nine structures and displaced eight families in March.
“And then, we have various families in the district that are just having battles with cancer and things like that,” Miller said. “Profits will be spread out to those families.”
The race benefits all involved, he added. Community members in need receive assistance, runners and walkers have the chance to participate in a 5k race and the students helping to set everything up and manage the event get out of the classroom and learn lessons about community organizing.
“It’s really an event that reaches out to let students be a part of helping and impacting somebody’s life,” Miller said. “They get to really be part of the community and help draw people in. And they want to give back as much as the community gives them.”
Miller teaches computer perspectives and introduction to business, but it’s his student government class — the student leadership team — that organizes the commemorative 5k.
“It’s an event for the community that’s ran by our students and they really do a great job,” he said.
While 212 people pre-registered to participate by deadline Thursday, Miller said he anticipates more runners and walkers to show up Saturday. The event will go on in rain, snow or shine.
“It’s just a really awesome student-led race,” Miller said.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the race starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at Laramie Middle School. Registration is $15 for children 15 and younger and $20 for adults. Go to the Hapi-ness 5k Facebook page for more information.