Green Cathedral Run benefits MetroParks
By Sean Barron
Holly Miller enjoys being a runner and taking her 7-year-old daughter, Alexis, to one of Mill Creek MetroParks’ largest playgrounds, so it stands to reason that she would eagerly participate in a run to benefit the play area.
“Mill Creek Park has a lot of kids’ activities, including one every month at Fellows Riverside Gardens,” the Vienna woman said.
One such activity that Miller was happy to prepare for and take part in was Sunday’s third annual Green Cathedral Half Marathon/5K Kids Fun Run in the James L. Wick Jr. Recreation Area off McCollum Road on the West Side.
Proceeds will go toward adding another portion to the four play areas that make up the Julianna Kurinka Children’s Play Area in the recreation center, noted Rikki Brammer, the park’s programs and events coordinator.
At least 350 adults and children ran or walked in the Kids’ Fun Run, half marathon or 5K run and walk, Brammer said, adding that a goal was to raise $10,000 for the playground.
Miller, a Howland Middle School eighth-grade American-history teacher and member of the Youngstown Road Runners Club, called Mill Creek Park “a hidden gem,” and said she spends many weekends being in 10K runs. She also praised park officials for having plenty of activities for youngsters.
For Courtney Poullas of Youngstown, taking part in the gathering was a generational thing. Accompanying Poullas were her mother, Maria Antonio of New Castle, Pa., and Poullas’ 1-year-old daughter, Gracie Poullas.
Running long distances is old hat for Courtney, a park regular who works for Pearson Education Services. Upcoming races include a half marathon in Akron as well as one next May in Pittsburgh, she said.
A half marathon is about 13.1 miles.
When Bill and Gatha Meadows of Boardman moved to the Mahoning Valley 10 years ago from Columbus, they knew little about the area but wanted to be closer to their three grandchildren who live in North Lima. Nevertheless, it didn’t take the longtime runners long to develop an appreciation for the park’s offerings.
“She’s the real runner; I just follow along,” Bill said with laughter as the couple prepared for the half marathon.
Before retiring and moving to Boardman, Bill worked as an engineer, and Gatha taught in the Columbus school system. They also have been runners for more than 30 years, she said.
Like most of their fellow participants, the couple was glad to sacrifice a bit of sweat not only to stay in shape, but to benefit the park, as well as the children who visit the recreation area.
“We appreciate and realize how important parks are for children, green space and fresh air,” Bill added.