OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) – Runners had their shoes tied and gloves on while participating in the Ocean Springs YMCA Winter Classic 10k run.
It’s the 34th year the Gulf Coast Runner’s Club partnered with the YMCA for the event to support a good cause.
Along with several other people, Keisha Stockman traveled to the Coast to join the run.
She and her husband drove from Mobile to take a break from the reality of the world and unwind by running.
“It makes you feel a whole lot better when you’re staying healthy. For me, running is therapeutic. I have ADHD so when I’m running, I get more focused. I have anxiety and it calms me down,” she said.
Stockman explained that running changed she and her husband’s life physically as well.
She said for years the two had very little exercise and indulged in unhealthy eating habits that eventually resulted in serious health conditions for her husband.
“We weren’t living the healthiest lifestyle. He gained a whole bunch of weight, and he became a type two diabetic, and he was like, ‘You know what? No.’ We did a complete 360, changed the way we eat, the way we think and started running,” Stockman said.
Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA CEO Jara Miller explained she’s pleased with the turnout because she knows people are making ways to promote a healthier lifestyle.
“We have one body that’s going to have to last us a lifetime. Being physically active is a great way to live longer, happier, healthy lives. We bring people to emotional health as well,” Miller said. “It’s not just physical, it’s about being able to connect with others, whether they are young or old. It’s just a great place to feel like you have a family outside of your family.”
Participants were eager to pin their race numbers in place, ready to beat their personal time record.
The event started with the 10k race and the one-mile walk/run following after.
Miller explained it’s best to have a selection of races so that the event is inclusive for all walks of life.
“We’re here for all ages and life stages, so being able to provide a variety of opportunities to stay physically active. Whether that’s running a long distance or walking with your children. It’s a great way to bring the community together and raise awareness,” Miller said.
The mission of the event is to raise awareness for epilepsy and former YMCA member Kelsey Williams, who died from the brain disorder at a young age.
The YMCA communications coordinator Doug Walker said each race has a charitable cause behind it.
“Some of the proceeds are going to benefit epilepsy awareness on the Gulf Coast. This is just one of many examples why the Y and the Gulf Coast Running Club team up to help our community in various ways,” he said.
Stockman explained that getting exercise was the point of the trip, but helping neighboring communities is a plus.
“That’s one of the things that draws me to it too is that it’s helping. Not only are we getting healthy and we’re enjoying ourselves out here but we’re helping other people as well,” she said.
The next run will be an eight-mile race in Ocean Springs on Feb. 12.
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