Run Inspired will provide 900 coats to needy children

Story by George Shea, Timothy Kelley

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Operation Warm kicked off it’s 2nd annual Run Inspired event Sunday on the grounds of the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, with over 700 registered runners and hundreds of spectators.

WILMINGTON (DE): We often times take life for granted. When were kids were just living life day by day. We’re not thinking about the future or what might happen tomorrow. We don’t even think about hardships our parents may be facing, because in their world, we don’t understand it.

We grow up poor without even realizing it until we get into our teens. Until then we think it’s a normal life but it’s not. We learn as we get older that being poor doesn’t just happen to adults. It happens to children too.

Children are too often dragged into hard times, and how well our children can meet the challenges of tomorrow matters greatly. Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 children in Delaware are growing up in poverty, with much higher rates in cities and among some racial and ethnic groups? Yet our child poverty across the state is less severe than our nation’s.

According to Delaware focus, a Delaware community Foundation, Children raised by single parents are more likely to grow up in low-income households. In Delaware, 39% of families with children were headed by a single parent, up from 32% in 2000. Similar to trends in poverty, single-parent families were more common in the cities (69% in Wilmington and 58% in Dover) and in African American families (61% statewide, 84% in Wilmington and 74% in Dover).

A healthy start in life can be critical for a child’s success, and this begins even before children are born. In Delaware, 81% of births were to women who began prenatal care in the first trimester of their pregnancy. This rate has increased in recent years but is below the rate in some similar regions. Infant mortality, deaths of infants before age 1, has been declining in Delaware and was 6.7 per 1,000 births in 2014.

To help fight child poverty it takes a lot of community support because families living in poverty can’t do it alone. It’s organizations like Operation Warm that help fight child poverty and their not the only nonprofit organization helping children. There are a handful of others but Operation Warm provides a very special touch in helping children in need. They help put a smile on every child’s face by providing warm brand new coats to children in need. Now that’s something for every needy child to smile about.

PHOTO: Operation Warm | Richard D. Sanford

How did Operation Warm begin? Meet Richard D. Sanford. Dick is a lifelong entrepreneur and philanthropist. He began his career at Arthur Anderson and was VP of Finance and Executive Vice President of Commodore International. He went on to found Intelligent Electronics, which grew to a $3.7-billion-dollar wholesale distributor of micro-products and services.

In 1998 Dick started The Sanford Foundation to support disadvantaged children. The first charter school in Pennsylvania was an early product and today that school, known as The Chester County Family Academy, operates in West Chester, PA. He has served on the Board of the Brandywine Museum and Conservancy. In 1998 Dick founded Operation Warm.

Since 1998, Operation Warm has inspired hope and empowered communities by manufacturing and distributing high-quality, new winter coats to over 2 million children in need throughout the US. Every child deserves to be warm, but today families are struggling with tough choices and limited resources. Necessity dictates that food and shelter take precedence over clothing, but children without coats are often absent from school in the winter, unable to play outside or partake in activities, and suffer from low self-esteem as a result.

Operation Warm’s vision is that every child wearing a new winter coat is warm, feels valued, and is empowered to get to school and gain an education.

According to Brock Clauser, promotions manager for Operation Warm, RUN INSPIRED began as a passion project for the team at Chadds Ford, PA-based nonprofit Operation Warm as a new way to fund their mission – providing new winter coats for kids living in poverty. The team realized that in a crowded race market like the Delaware Valley, they would not only need a great cause, but a unique location in which to hold their event. Their first choice was a property just across the border in Delaware – Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library.

Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library is the 1,000 acre former Delaware estate home of Henry Francis du Pont, which has been open to the public for the last 60 years. The world-renowned property is filled with serene meadows, rippling streams, historic buildings and a 60-acre naturalistic garden, which includes the Enchanted Woods. Winterthur is known for its annual Point-to-Point Steeplechase horse race that has drawn over 15,000 spectators each spring for the last 39 years.

The Operation Warm team, along with Winterthur’s Events Director, Jill Abbott, and professional race directors, established the 6.2 mile course throughout the 1,000-acre preserve. Word quickly spread and by race weekend, over 3,000 participants and spectators descended onto Winterthur, making it the fourth largest race within Delaware in just its first year.

“When Operation Warm approached us with their idea, we embraced it to utilize our community resource and showcase the Winterthur grounds and landscape as one of the most peaceful and picturesque events,” expressed Abbott. “We’re very excited to have everyone come experience this gorgeous race. It’s a wonderful and reflective way to spend a Sunday morning in October all for a good cause.”

PHOTO: Operation Warm | Erin Resnick, Events Manager

According to Erin Resnick, RUN INSPIRED 10K Event Manager, Winterthur offers the perfect landscape for this unique event.

” We were so thrilled by the response to last year’s inaugural event. Our plan for this year’s event is to make it even better with more kid’s activities and food/beverage options at the finisher’s party,” explained Resnick. “We are excited to partner with M&T Bank on this event, which will allow us to positively impact more children in need in Delaware.”

M&T Bank officials agree the fit between the two organizations couldn’t be more apparent.

“We are focused on strengthening the communities we serve, and Operation Warm does a great job of assisting children from low-income families,” said Nick Lambrow, President of M&T Bank’s Delaware Region. “The mission of Operation Warm to provide new winter coats to children in need aligns with our mission to make a positive impact in our communities.”

So for the second year in a row, Operation Warm returned to the grounds of Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library in Winterthur, DE for their annual run/walk, and it all happened on Sunday. Hundreds of people from participants to spectators showed up in support of Operation Warm’s mission.

This years event brought over 900 registered runners. That means for each runner, they are providing a coat for each child in need. “That provides one coat to each child in need, specifically in Delaware”, explains Erin Resnick, RUN INSPIRED 10K Event Manager.

The one thing we need to understand is, it’s not about winning at the finish line at these nonprofit events. It’s about coming out, having fun, and helping the organization fulfill its mission. That makes everyone a winner, and that’s exactly what happened today at Run Inspired!

Are you RUN INSPIRED for 2018? If so, check out ways you can get involved here.

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