Sykesville Raiders Football and Cheerleading will host its first Raiders Day 5K and Fun Run at Freedom Park at 100 Raincliffe Road, in Sykesville, Aug. 1. All of the proceeds will benefit the nonprofit organization's football and cheerleading programs, which are for children in kindergarten through eighth grade primarily from the Sykesville area.
Though coaches are all volunteers, there are still expenses from maintaining practice fields, hiring a referee for games, and buying the equipment for football players and cheerleaders, which is where the proceeds from the 5K will go, said Dave Ferguson, athletic director for Sykesville Raiders Football and Cheerleading.
"When you have a youth sport you want to get the best and safest equipment," Ferguson said.
The 5K race will start at 9 a.m. and is expected to finish at about 10 a.m. The 1-mile fun run will begin at 10:15 a.m.
Registration for the race is available July 30 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Freedom Park and is also available Aug. 1 from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. The registration fee is $30 — with no gaurantee of a T-shirt — and same-day registration is available. Registration for the fun run is $10 and includes a medal.
Any extra T-shirts will be sold at the race for about $10.
First-, second- and third-place winners of the 5K race will receive a $150 gift card to one of three places: Liberatore's Ristorante and Catering in Eldersburg, E.W. Becks in Sykesville or Dick's Sporting Goods at any location.
Free bagels, bananas and water will all be available for participants after the race and fun run. There will also be a raffle drawing that all participants can enter, with prizes ranging from a one-month membership to Gold's Gym, in Eldersburg, to tickets to Stratosphere Trampoline Park, also in Eldersburg.
The 5K race will wind around the paved path that circles Freedom Park and also around the soccer and baseball fields, so the course will only have slight elevation and no big hills, said Cheryl Addison, one of the race coordinators.
Overall, the atmosphere of the race is not meant to be overwhelmingly competitive but a relaxed event where people have the option to run or walk, Addison said.
Following the race at 2 p.m. is the third annual Raider Day picnic, which is free to attend and open to the community. The proceeds from the picnic, which will feature food, games and activities, will also benefit the Raiders. The picnic will take place at the Sykesville-Freedom District fire company fairgrounds.
Activities will range from a dunk tank and moon bounce to musical chairs and pie in the face. Participation will cost from $1 to $5 depending on the activity.
The coaches are always put in the dunk tank and their athletes pay per throw to get their coaches slammed in the water, Ferguson said.
There is also a punt, pass and throw contest, which is free for children ages 5 to 14 to see who can punt, pass and throw a ball the farthest for each age group. Winners will either win a medal or ribbon.
"They have all kinds of fun activities and everyone runs around," Addison said.
Although people are welcome to bring their own picnic lunches, there will also be food including hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, french fries, kettle corn, cheesecake by the slice, and snowballs at the picnic priced from 50 cents to $4. There will also be water, soda, Gatorade, and fresh lemonade for sale from 50 cents to $1.
Aug. 1 will be a day during which all of the families within the program can meet and get to know each other, but members of the community are also welcome to join in the fun of Raider Day, Addison said.
"Everybody's invited. We do it primarily for the Raider families, but it's also for the community if they want to come out," Ferguson said.
However, the day's main event, Ferguson said, is the 5K race in the morning. He said he hopes to have 100 runners signed up. Ideally, the 5K race will be something that the Sykesville Football and Cheerleading program can host next year as well, Ferguson said.
Without fundraising programs like the 5K, George said, the Sykesville Football and Cheerleading program would not be able to keep costs down for families.
Ferguson said that he has watched shy children turn into confident athletes through the football program.
As a mother of three boys in the football program — ages 7, 10 and 12 — Addison said that her children have learned respect and perseverance.
"They learned — win or lose — you respect your team, respect your coaches," Addison said.
George said she teaches that same lesson to her cheerleaders.
"I always tell them, I want them to be humble in victory and proud in defeat," she said.
If you go:
What: Sykesville Raiders Cheerleading 5K and Fun Run.
Where: Freedom Park at 100 Raincliffe Road, Sykesville.
When: Day-of registration is at 7:30 a.m. for the 5K and Fun Run on Aug. 1. The 5K race starts at 9 a.m. and the fun run starts at 10:15 a.m. Participants should arrive a few minutes prior to the race if they've already registered.