ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Instead of a starting pistol, runners across town can start their Thanksgiving morning with the sound of mariachis. The annual gratitude run is hosted by the Native Health Initiative to provide an alternative way of vacationing.
Anthony Fleg is not only a family doctor, but also Co-Partnership Director of the Native Health Initiative. He launched the run in 2016 to offer an alternative, free Thanksgiving Day event that would benefit the community. “Most of us just want to celebrate the holiday with loved ones, do something healthy, and would rather donate clothes and groceries to families in need than pay $ 40 per person to run a race. It’s more of a community festival and party disguised with a running, running and cycling element, ”said Fleg.
He said 400 people had come to attend the event, which further proved to Fleg that this was something the community wanted to do. It is up to the organization not to create barriers preventing people from attending the event, which is why the event is free. Instead of paying a registration fee, they ask participants to bring clothing, money, hygiene or food donations that will be donated to local families in need.
“I think the more we can bring our families together, the more other things will change. This could be dealing with stress in the family, this could be trying to eat healthier. But I think it’s a completely different approach when I, as a parent, sit in the car on my phone and my child is doing an activity instead of actually bringing families together, ”said Fleg.
In addition to the Thanksgiving Day event, the Native Health Initiative has an event called Running Medicine, which shares the same principles as the gratitude run but is used year round. “It’s a whole different feeling when you get this intergenerational game and the kids really become teachers because they teach adults how to play again,” said Fleg.
Lailoni Kie-Leighton and her family have participated in four of the gratitude run events and the running medicine program over the years. She values the alternative access to medicine and health and is particularly happy about the support from the entire group.
“We built such a great connection with the group. They have become like our family. Sometimes you don’t get that ‘great job, I hope you had a great day today’ at work, but when you come to one of our celebrations you get that positive impact, ”said Kie-Leighton. “I’m really looking forward to seeing people of all ages there and giving something back to the community and also being able to enjoy everyone’s positive vibe.”
The 6th Annual Gratitude Run begins at 9:00 am at North Domingo Baca Park. The free event begins with a country recognition and attendees can run, run, or ride a bike. For more information, visit liebevolleservice.us/gratitude-run-1.