A fun-run with a twist is returning to Kodiak this year: the second annual Milk Run, where after the race, participants will be served milk and cookies. The run is helping to support Kodiak Kindness, a local non-profit program that provides mothers with individualized information and support for breastfeeding and infant feeding by phone call and home visits.
The Milk Run was founded last fall by Brooke McLaughlin, a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor at A Balanced Approach. She explained she got the idea from a similar event in Anchorage, and decided to do the same in Kodiak, because of her personal experience with Kodiak Kindness.
“We began this event after I was inspired by Owen’s Milk Run, which is an Anchorage based race, supporting breastfeeding moms out of Anchorage. And being in the position of having my own child, and utilizing the Kodiak Kindness program, I just wanted to find a way to give back.”
McLaughlin said last year’s race was a success, with about 60 families and the Kodiak High School Cross Country Team showing up to support Kindness.
The Milk Run is this Saturday, at the North End Trail on Near Island. Participants can go any distance they choose up to a 5k, and there is also a shorter race specifically for younger children. The race is $10 per person, $20 for a family or by donation. Registration begins at 10:30 and the race starts at 11.
Elizabeth Ridgeway is the Vice President of the United States Coast Guard Spouses Association, and said that the program helped her and her husband give their daughter the best nutrition possible. She also spoke on behalf of the families in the Coast Guard that participated in Kindness.
“A lot of families come to Kodiak, and we leave our extended families behind, and so, when we have a new child, there’s a lot of uncertainty, and the Kindness project really helps us be more comfortable as a new family, making sure that our little ones are thriving.”
This spring, Kodiak Kindness was awarded the 2014 Rural Health Quality Award by the Alaska Rural Health Conference. The program has helped more than 1,500 Kodiak families, and the percentage of breastfeeding at six months in Kodiak is three times as high as the rest of Alaska. Kindness founder and coordinator Heather Preece explained the award they received.
“It was a big surprise and a great honor for us to be awarded the Alaska Rural Health Quality Award this past spring. We didn’t even know we had been nominated; it was actually the chief nurse executive at Providence here in Kodiak, who admired the program. The Alaska Rural Health Conference is held only every two years, and the Rural Health Quality Award highlights programs that have made significant contributions to either the quality or safety of rural Alaskans, and programs that show evidence of improved outcomes, so it was pretty amazing.”
Kodiak Kindness is a free program, so it is heavily reliant on grants and community donations to keep running. They are currently applying for a grant through the Providence Alaska Foundation, and, according to Preece, the Milk Run will help show the amount of community support Kindness receives, and helps the chances of the program getting the grant.