Armed Forces Kids Run encourages sportsmanship, fitness

Omar Matos, Goodfellow Youth Programs sports and fitness director, watches as two young athletes dash to the finish line during the 2007 America’s Armed Forces Kids Run May 19 at the Goodfellow Recreational Camp at Lake Nasworthy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luis Loza Gutierrez)

Omar Matos, Goodfellow Youth Programs sports and fitness director, watches as two young athletes dash to the finish line during the 2007 America’s Armed Forces Kids Run May 19 at the Goodfellow Recreational Camp at Lake Nasworthy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luis Loza Gutierrez)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 17th Services Division's Goodfellow Youth Programs and Mathis Fitness Center teamed up to host the 2007 America's Armed Forces Kids Run Saturday at the Goodfellow Recreation Camp at Lake Nasworthy.

"We thought the kids run would be a great way to kick off this year's Armed Forces Day activities," said Martin Littlefield, Mathis Fitness Center fitness coordinator.

Registration for the run was free. Both children and parents who participated in the half-mile-long run were given a free t-shirt.

The fact that there were no official top-finisher-prizes or categories helped to promote several of the event's themes, such as sportsmanship and physical fitness.

"Having children take part in activities like this year's kids run will literally help them get off on the right foot to living a healthy way of life," said Omar Matos, Goodfellow Youth Programs sports and fitness director.

Sportsmanship was definitely demonstrated at the event. Children could be heard encouraging one another, with simple phrases such as, "Come on you can do it, or "We're almost there."

Some children gave each other and their parents high-fives upon completing the run. One child even helped get a cup of water for one of his young, fellow runners. The spirit of sportsmanship was very prevalent, including in Noah Cunningham, who competed in his first official run and was the first child to cross the finish line. When asked if it bothered him that no official prizes or places were given out to the runners who finished the fastest, the seven-year-old simply replied by saying, "It's okay."

Noah was more concerned about saying how much he enjoys running because he likes exercising and staying healthy, especially when the exercising involves racing his role-model and father, Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Cunningham, a firefighting instructor with the 312th Training Squadron.

"The military places a great deal of importance on our military men and women about maintaining good, physical fitness," said Mr. Matos. "I think it only makes sense to emphasize that same importance on fitness when it comes to children," he added.

Mr. Littlefield said the Mathis Fitness Center and Goodfellow Youth Programs look forward to working together on future events like the kids run in order to help promote the Air Force's "Fit to Fight" philosophy not just among servicemembers, but the entire military family.

Individuals interested taking part in such activities should keep a lookout for notices around various base facilities like gyms and the Base Exchange. They should also check for announcement in the base paper and the services division's monthly publication, "The GOODTIMES."