More than 80 children last year cleaned their rooms, did their homework and lived their lives while calling the Western Plains Youth Shelter of Woodward home.

Since 1978 the youth shelter has been providing a safe environment for children who have been removed from abusive or neglectful homes.

For 13 years now the people of Northwest Oklahoma have come out for a brisk run or walk at the Western Plains Run for the Shelter.

The event offers runners and walkers a chance to support the work the youth shelter does and the children who make their home there, even temporarily, said Western Plains Director, Kevin Evans.

"About every year we try to make our goal to raise about $25,000," Evans said. "We are so excited about the response this year."

This year, even though the race will meander along a slightly different course than in years past, the event has proven to continue being popular.

In years past, the race began at Cedar Heights Elementary School, wound around the walking trails and eventually racers found themselves doing the traditional "loop" around the USDA barn, Evans said.

"Well, we are starting it this year in the same place, but we will be working our way around the construction on the other (west) side of Cedar Heights as well as the construction near the barn (USDA)," he said. "When you get there, it will be obvious where you need to go."

The race, which includes a fun purple, long sleeved t-shirt , begins at 9 a.m. Saturday in the Cedar Heights parking lot. Pre-registration begins at 8 a.m. There will be a one mile fun run/walk as well.

"I think we have a little more than 100 registered and we think there will be about 125 total come to the race," Evans said.

The money, all of is, save what is spent on the T-shirts, goes into a fund that provides money for children to have more normal lives, Evans said.

That means, if a child has club dues and items he or she perhaps needs to participate in extracurricular activities, the money earned at the race helps pay the cost.

"For instance, we took the kids to the state fair," Evans said. "That was a fun outing. We want to do the same things with out kids that normal families do with their kids."

According to Evans, the event provides more funds to help normalize the lives of more children who are statistically staying longer and longer.

Evans reached out to thank Woodward and residents from surrounding communities who support the run as well as those who donate extra funds, over and above the entry fee.

"We really do appreciate those few people who surprise us with an extra check," Evans said. "We do this to support the kids, but we also do this to raise awareness in this community. We see these t-shirts everywhere and when you see the t-shirt, I hope they think about the kids who are abused and need safe homes in this community."

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