Racers lace up their tennis shoes to support Young Life with a race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway

By Christie Barlow
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Angela Clouse has seen plenty of races in the time she has spent traveling with her husband, a chaplin for NASCAR. But last weekend Angela wasn’t watching from the stands, she was racing laps around the track herself.

Where NASCAR’s drivers reach speeds of 180 miles per hour and can complete a lap of Lowe’s Motor Speedway in less than a minute, Clouse took a little over 10 minutes to complete each lap she made around the track. Clouse was in good company with around 200 others who joined her to race around Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Cabarrus County’s first ever Young Life Run and Fun Day.

“My husband and I travel with NASCAR,” Clouse said. “He’s a chaplin so normally we watch the cars, so it was fun to run. It’s a great cause to help send kids to summer camp.”

Young Life, a Christian non profit organization, took over the track for a different kind of racing Sunday morning. Instead of cars zooming around the track for hundreds of miles, runners toiled away at a 5k run that took them two and a quarter laps around the track. Despite the rain, competitive runners, teens, kids and parents were among those who ran or walked around the track at the Speedway to help raise funds to send kids to Young Life summer camp.

The Run and Fun day was a chance for the whole family to get involved, said Nate Dimock, the area director of Young Life in Cabarrus County. People could walk or run, there were games, inflatables, live music, food and drinks and prizes for the top finishers. Those who participated parked their cars on the infield and set foot on the same track some of their favorite drivers were on last week.

Racers came from all over North Carolina, but two Harrisburg residents took home some of the top spots. Clouse finished first in the women’s 27-31 age group and David Parisi, also of Harrisburg, placed among the top finishers.

One-hundred percent of the proceeds raised at the Run and Fun day will send under-privileged kids to summer camp, Dimock said. Sponsorships from Lowe’s and Coca Cola allowed Young Life to donate all of the raised funds. Five years ago it cost around $2,000 to rent a 55-person bus to send kids to camp, Dimock said. Today, it costs around $6,000 to rent the same bus, in addition to the costs of running the camp itself. As costs continue to increase, Young Life relies on fundraisers like the Run and Fun day to send kids to camp, Dimock said.

This fundraiser was new to Cabarrus County, but not to Young Life. Steve Gardner, the regional director of Young Life in the greater Charlotte area, brought the idea with him from Columbus, Ohio. The Young Life organization in Columbus would hold a 5k run in the Ohio State football stadium. The event was so popular there, Gardner decided to bring it to Cabarrus County. He wanted a location that would bring people out and get them excited about participating, he said.

“There was no way (people) were going to drive to Charlotte to run in a park,” Gardner said. “(The race) is a great concept, but people aren’t going to do it. I tried to think of where would be a fun place most people wouldn’t have access to. I landed on the Panther’s stadium or the Speedway.”

• Contact Christie Barlow at [email protected] or 704-789-9140.

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