Run on Thanksgiving benefits Pilgrim’s Chapel youth programs

The Pilgrim Run, a 5K race in Hyde Park, benefits the Pilgrim Center at 3801 Gillham Road. The public chapel is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1941 as the Pilgrim Church for the Deaf, it provided religious services and social opportunities for the deaf and hearing-impaired until it closed in 1987. The chapel was reopened as a public chapel for people of all faiths in 1997.

For the second year, organizers are offering Midtown runners and their friends a chance to burn a few calories just before Thanksgiving Dinner.

Just like last year’s inaugural race, the 2012 5K Pilgrim Run will begin at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. The race through the historic Hyde Park neighborhood of Kansas City was the brainchild of a planning committee including race director and veteran runner Gary Foltz.  He said another member of the planning committee had participated in a Thanksgiving Day race and suggested having one on Kansas City.

“We wanted to do something in Midtown,” he said. “It’s a great way to start the day and burn a few calories.”

The race starts and ends at 38th and Gillham at the Pilgrim Center, an historic public chapel that began its life as the Pilgrim Lutheran Church for the Deaf. It’s open for meditation and prayer from 9 to 5 every day, and is also open for holiday worship services.

The Pilgrim Center is also home to Uplifting Westport, which was created in 2003 when the former Westport Allen Community Center merged with the Pilgrim Center. That organization has a mission of providing safe and affordable activities for young people in urban neighborhoods. Uplifting Westport puts on the annual Hyde Park Children’s film festival and an Easter egg hunt, and plans to begin an “Arts in the Park” event for neighborhood children.

Proceeds from the race go to those children’s programs.

Foltz said his goal has been to ensure the race is well organized and high quality. The course takes runners and walkers through Hyde Park, Gillham Park and the Hyde Park neighborhood. Runners will be chip timed and the course is certified by the KC Running Company.

Because Thanksgiving is a time for families and friends to spend time together, Foltz said the race is designed to be run in groups.

“We really promote the team approach. We encourage families and friends to sign up as a team. In fact, we’re seeing a big increase in teams this year,” he said.

Foltz said last year, several runners came in costume. This year, he expects even more costumes as there will be a prize for the best one.

So far, runners and walkers from 18 states have signed up to participate in the 2012 Pilgrim’s Run.

This video has more details.