By Sarah Kinzbach
years ago with an idea to raise money for Scotty’s House and bring a 5K and half-marathon to Bryan/College Station. The result was the Armadillo Dash. The brainchild of Dr. Jennifer Friedman, the Armadillo Dash has since raised more than $228,000 for local children’s charities and attracts close to 2000 runners.
This year’s Dash will begin and end at Veteran’s Park in College Station on March 2, and feature fun water stops, extensive community participation, and a mostly flat, fast course.
“Everything goes back to the community,” says Jane Riley, Armadillo Dash board member. The race now benefits Scotty’s House, Still Creek Ranch, the Boys & Girls Club of the Brazos Valley, and the Food Bank Backpack Program. Each charity stands to receive $10-15,000. “We wanted to give back to those who give back to children in the Brazos Valley,” says Riley.
Scotty’s House, the initial beneficiary of the Armadillo Dash, is the child advocacy center for the Brazos Valley. Providing services to abused and neglected children in the community, Scotty’s House is a separate but partner entity of law enforcement agencies. The house offers free counseling, forensic interviews, forensic medical exams, and family service coordination. The organization relies on fundraisers, grants, community support, and donations.
“The Armadillo Dash is a wonderful financial service for Scotty’s House,” says Cary Haynes, Scotty’s House Executive Director. Donations from the Armadillo Dash help support the professional medical and counseling personnel who provide services to Scotty’s House.
“Since 2007, Scotty’s House has received over $89,000 from the Armadillo Dash,” says Haynes. “It’s amazing. We support the race and help get the word out but they don’t require anything of [Scotty’s House] for the donation.”
Haynes, a Dash veteran, says the race is great and “for quite a few great causes!”
Still Creek Boys & Girls Ranch
Still Creek Ranch has been a Dash recipient and water stop volunteer organization since 2008. The Ranch finds children in crisis and provides full-time, long-term residential services. Additionally, Still Creek offers long term, residential care for victims of human trafficking through the program Restore Her; a Christian Academy providing education to K-12 students from the Ranch and community; and Matthew’s House, a transitional living program for 18-23 year old graduates from Still Creek while they attend college or trade school.
“Armadillo Dash has been one of the major contributors to our funding,” says Steve Singleton, Still Creek Ranch Executive Director. The Dash has contributed $71,250 to Still Creek Ranch since 2008.
Most notably, the Armadillo Dash has funded the start of the Restore Her program. Launched in October 2012, the contributions from the Dash have allowed six girls to be saved from human trafficking, and two additional houses to be built for the program.
“The Armadillo Dash contributions go beyond just the event,” says Singleton. “All of the people with Armadillo Dash are also affiliated with Still Creek. They provide professional services to Restore Her. It’s a great program and we enjoy working with them.”
Boys & Girls Club of the Brazos Valley
The Boys & Girls Club of the Brazos Valley offers after-school programs to at-risk youth. Designed to help kids develop the skills and qualities necessary to become responsible citizens and leaders, the Boys & Girls Club provides programs in health & wellness, education, leadership, sports, and arts.
An Armadillo Dash recipient since 2011, the Boys & Girls Club has been awarded $33,750 and serves more than 2000 youth annually.
“The Armadillo Dash funds are utilized to assist in funding our Health & Wellness programming,” says Ron Rolett, President of the Boys & Girls Club of the Brazos Valley. “Programs in this area develop young people’s capacity to engage in positive behaviors that nurture their own wellbeing, set personal goals, and live successfully as self-sufficient adults.”
Two such programs include the Passport to Manhood for boys and SMART Moves for girls. Both programs target youth eight to 17 years old.
Food Bank Backpack Program
The Backpack Program at the Brazos Valley Food Bank helps children in the Brazos Valley eat when they do not have access to free or reduced-price school meals. With more than one in four Brazos Valley children at risk of hunger, the Backpack program helps ensure kids get proper nutrition and worry less about food being there when they need it.
Armadillo Dash has provided the Backpack program with $33,750 since 2011. “Since each BackPack we put together costs around $7, this $33,750 has enabled BVFB to provide over 4,800 food-filled backpacks to local children at risk of hunger over the weekend,” says Theresa Mangapora, Brazos Valley Food Bank executive director.
Each backpack is filled with food enough for five meals plus snacks and is discreetly distributed by teachers and school staff to students at risk of going hungry over the weekend.
“These backpacks provide children not only needed nourishment but school readiness, self-confidence, and a self-assured start to the school day and week,” says Mangapora. “Don’t all children, despite their socioeconomic status, deserve to feel good about themselves and to start the school week on a level playing field?”
Armadillo Dash 5K & Half Marathon
Sunday, March 2
Start and finish at Veterans Park, 3101 Harvey Road, College Station
USA Track & Field Certified Race. Water stops will range from one to two miles apart on the half marathon course. Courses are mostly flat and fast.