Ever since Kiera Cleveland was a freshman at Oscar Smith High School In Chesapeake she's wanted to have an impact on her community.
“I just felt the need to help the people around me,” the 16-year-old said.
She heard the stories of some of her fellow students struggling financially to get the essentials for school. A handful of students are homeless.
Kiera has organized the Tiger Trot 5K Charity race for 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24 in Bells Mill Park in Chesapeake. Winners will receive gift cards to a local athletic store and all participants will receive a T-shirt, a medal if they complete the race and snacks. The entry fee is $25. Close to 70 had signed up by the first week of August. Kiera hopes to have 200.
She wishes to help these students in need because “at the end of the day we’re all equals despite our financial situations.”
The money collected after the race will be put into an account for students that is managed by Lynne Savoy, Oscar Smith's graduation coach. Savoy has been managing the account for about three years thanks to contributions from community groups including the South Norfolk Eagles and South Norfolk Golf Association.
“We have to make sure our students get what they need because a good solid education is life-changing,” Savoy said.
Kiera decided to organize a race because she has been participating in cross country and track since the sixth grade.
She and her mother began planning in March and she got the help of administrators and teachers to get the permit for the park, to create a logo based on the Oscar Smith tiger mascot and to design T-shirts.
She also needed to round up money for the event, including paying for prizes. Several businesses became sponsors including
TowneBank, Recovery Sports Bar and Grill, Maymar, River Oak Church and Patient First.
One of the most challenging things for Kiera was reaching out to people. She felt very much out of her element when contacting businesses and local runners.
“I was definitely out of my comfort zone," she said, "but it helped me get out of my shell.”
All in all, Kiera said she just wants to help those around her in any way possible.
“If you have even an inkling of a desire to reach out in the community, go for it. There will always be an excuse or self-doubt when embarking on a new endeavor that could hold you back from making an impact," she said. Once you push past your comfort zone and act, you can discover how you as an individual can help out the community with your unique talents, ideas, and background.”
If you would like more information or to sign up for the 5k Tiger Trot Charity Run go to https://tigertrot.enmotive.com/events/register/2019-oshs-tiger-trot-5k