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Lucky 13: Youth work toward Beardsley goal

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Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

To some people, 13 is an unlucky number. But for participants in this summer's "Beardsley Run 4 Fun" youth program at the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center, 13 means success.

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According to DLCCC program director Brent Wolf, the kids have been asked, over the course of the summer, to read 13 books, run 13 miles, and complete 13 good deeds. Each was given a card upon which to record their successful completion of each of the assigned tasks.

"That works out to an average of one book, one mile and one good deed a week (for the summer)," Wolf said, explaining the reason why the number 13 was chosen.

Those who have completed their cards in time for this Saturday's 12th annual Dick Beardsley Half Marathon and 5K Run/Walk will receive a free invitation to participate in the first annual "Kids' Fun Run," a 1K running event geared toward young people ages 12 and under. Those who have not participated in the summer program can also enter the Fun Run for an entry fee of $5, Wolf noted.

Local running legend Dick Beardsley will run with the kids at 11 a.m. Saturday, following the conclusion of the half marathon and 5K run/walk, which starts at 8:30 a.m. in front of the DL Pavilion.

Each of the Fun Run participants will receive a certificate and a free t-shirt. The t-shirts will be printed with a design that was actually the handiwork of a 9-year-old DL student.

Jessica Bjerke, daughter of David and Jenny Bjerke of Detroit Lakes, submitted the design that was chosen as the winner from among hundreds submitted by local students.

"We went out to all the schools (K-5) in May and gave them information on the (shirt design) contest and the Run-4-Fun cards," Wolf said.

But Bjerke didn't learn that she'd won the contest until "about a week ago," when she got a call from the DLCCC.

"They called us to let us know that she'd won," Jennifer Bjerke recalled. "She (Jessica) almost couldn't remember what it (the design) was for."

But she was very excited to be chosen as the winner, her mother added.

"I just kind of made it up as I went along," Jessica said of the inspiration for her design.

And while she didn't participate in the DLCCC youth program, Jessica will take part in Saturday's Fun Run.

"I like running," she says. "I just like moving fast."

Her younger brothers, Derek, 6, and Peter, 4, will also be taking part in the Fun Run, Jessica added.

A love of running was also a big part of the reason why 10-year-old Lance Singer chose to participate in the Fun Run -- in fact, he will be participating in the 5K Run as well.

"I like running because it keeps my muscles up, and it just feels good," he said. "I like the breeze in my face when I'm running."

He completed his 13 miles of running at Snappy Park -- and "I practiced a lot" besides, in preparation for this weekend's 5K, he adds.

The son of Chris and Vicki Singer, Lance became involved in the Beardsley program this summer in part because his mother is the front desk manager at the DLCCC.

He completed his card, which means Lance will be getting a free entry into the Fun Run.

His 13 book selections included fairy tales, "some non fiction, and some fiction," he says -- and, of course, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Good deeds for which he earned credit included reading stories to his little brother and helping him tie his shoes, as well as opening doors for elderly people.

Though they won't know how many kids participated in the summer program until they hand in their cards on Saturday, Wolf said, they anticipate growing the event each year.

"We had 200 kids running the race last year," he said. "We're hoping for more this time, and we hope it's something we can improve on and grow a little every year."

Participation in all three races is expected to increase this year, Wolf added.

Special guest at this year's Beardsley Half Marathon will be running legend Frank Shorter.

A gold medalist in the Olympic and Pan-American Games marathons, four-time national cross country champion and member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, among many other honors, Shorter will be speaking at a pre-race spaghetti feed on Friday, Sept. 7, at the DLCCC. Beardsley will also speak at the event, which begins at 6 p.m.

For more information about the Beardsley Half Marathon, 5K Run/Walk, Fun Run or youth program, call Brent Wolf at the DLCCC, 218-844-4221 Ext. 118, or e-mail him at brent@dlccc.org.

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