JACKSON TWP.  Runners and walkers in Jackson Township and around Stark County have a chance to be a superhero and champion during the Run4Kids Superhero 5K run starting at 8 p.m. on July 13.

The fundraiser event course will be at Stark State College and Kent State University at Stark. The race is part of the Ohio Challenge Series. The family-oriented Superhero 5K is jointly sponsored by Tiqvah Hands of Hope and Belden Village Kiwanis.

In addition to the goal of finishing the race, the bigger goal is to raise funds to serve youths in need. To add a bit of fun to the evening, runners are encouraged to wear their favorite superhero costume. Or, superhero capes can be ordered at preregistration, child size only $10, or runners can purchase them on race day.

"Tiqvah Hands of Hope has held a 5K for the past five years," said race director Pam Lung in an email. "This is the first time we have combined efforts with the Belden Village Kiwanis.

"My understanding is we are the only race in the Ohio Challenge Series to combine. Joining together made sense for both groups. We can share in costs and hopefully draw more runners because we pull from previous races from both groups. Each of the groups brings in sponsors. We get to keep the funds from our own sponsors.  We split the money from the racers and split the costs. Plus, we share in the workload and volunteer base which has helped immensely."

Race organizers are expecting around 300 runners and walkers and hope to net $7,500. Both groups serve children in need in Stark County, which Lung wrote is another reason that the collaboration has worked so well. 

Tiqvah Hands of Hope is an after-school program in Canton City Schools for children first through eighth grade. Kids receive help with their homework, learn life skills, get involved with physical activities, character development, mentoring based on the biblical principles, there is a clothing boutique and they experience the arts, science and other enrichment opportunities. Plus, kids receive a full dinner before going home. 

Tiqvah was started in 2009 by Sarah Kropf & Michelle Humble (Kropf). They saw a need for an after-school program that did more than help with homework. While grades are an important part of making a new future, it's hard to study when hungry or dealing with a personal tragedy or stress. 

"That's where Tiqvah comes in," Lung wrote. "They help these children learn the building blocks to improving their lives and also help others in the community. Helping others makes anyone feel better about themselves.  Tiqvah children don't just take what the organization has to offer, they give back to others in the community through neighborhood meals, making gifts for nursing homes and other activities."

Kiwanis supports three area Key Clubs - Jackson, GlenOak and Fairless - that offer annual college scholarships, and help with area charitable organizations like the Stark County Hunger Task Force, Akron Children's Hospital and others. It also is involved with projects making an impact with kids in both local and global communities.

"Our experience has been that runners like to have fun, not just run," Lung wrote. "Part of that is dressing up for a theme. The children we serve all have challenges in one way or another and are all superheroes in our eyes. We encourage them to continue to strive forward in life.  We’re really excited to see how our runners dress up this year."

How to Register and Check-in Information

- Race day check-in opens 6 p.m. at Stark State Business and Entrepreneurial Building at 6200 Frank Ave. NW, North Canton. A free kid’s run kicks off at 7:15 p.m. followed by the main 5K race at 8 p.m.

- Register at OhioChallengeSeries.enmotive.com/events/register/run4kids-superhero-5k. For additional information go to www.tiqvah.org or www.beldenvillagekiwanis.org.

- Registration is $35 race day 18 and older; $30 race day 17 and younger; $120 five runner team; free youth fun run, 12 and younger.

- The course features two laps on a scenic route through the Stark State and Kent State at Stark campuses.

- Runners receive: dry-fit shirt, reusable LED wristband, Subway gift certificate and photos on OhioChallengeSeries.net.

- Awards: first male and female finishers, first three finishers in each age group and first team.

Lung encourages everyone to come out for the race,

"First of all, you don't have to run," Lung wrote. "Many people walk. One of our major sponsors, Ohio Gratings, encourages their employees to participate and each year brings four or five teams. This year, we will have a bounce house and face painting for kids, a DJ playing music and a free kids' fun run at 7:15 pm that night. I'm amazed at the people who dance before and after the race. In general, it is a fun, uplifting evening for the whole family. And, for those serious runners, we are ready for that, too."

Those interested in making a donation without attending the race can do so through the Ohio Challenge Series website at https://ohiochallengeseries.enmotive.com/events/register/run4kids-superhero-5krace. Select to donate to either Tiqvah or Kiwanis. Another way to donate is to go the two groups’ individual websites at www.BeldenVillageKiwanis.org or www.Tiqvah.org. Both organizations are 501(c)(3) certified for tax deduction purposes.