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Run the Race against crime
|Children who attend Run the Race get a hot meal, complete with fruit, each day they attend. The food at the club is provided through donations.
Kids on the Westside have a place to go.
That’s the message that Rachel Muha wants to get across.
Muha, who lost her son in a tragic event in 1999, spends most of her time with local children through The Run the Race Club, a program she started through her son’s foundation, The Brian Muha Memorial Foundation, Inc.
Brian was a student at Franciscan University in Steubenville when his off-campus apartment was robbed and he and his roommate were killed.
Muha says her son’s killers became that way as a result of “crack, neglect and abuse.”
“I went to the trial and I saw them as men, but I pictured them as children. They weren’t born killers, something made them that way,” she added.
Muha has made it her mission to provide love and guidance for children that need it, showing them an alternative to a life of drugs and crime. This is a goal that she meets everyday, as she greets every child by name and welcomes each child that shows up at the door.
The program began four years ago using space in a small church.
Recently, when Columbus Recreation and Parks announced the closing of some local recreation facilities due to budget challenges, including Holton Park Recreation Center, Muha saw her opportunity.
A deal was reached between the group and the city allowing Run the Race to have use of the entire Holton facility rent free. The organization is in charge of minor repairs, while the city picks up the tab for utilities and major repairs.
“It’s wonderful. We have this whole place!” said Muha.
The club has utilized every inch of the rec center, one of the Westside’s hidden gems.
“Isn’t this beautiful? I just can’t believe it’s ours!” said Rhonda Snyder, a volunteer with Run the Race.
The club, which operates from 12:30-3:30 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, has grown considerably since moving to its new location.
|Muha starts each day at Run the Race with words of advice and life lessons for the children.
“That first day, we had 200 kids,” said Snyder. “We had to close the doors and start a sign up sheet.”
Muha has learned to control the crowds by dividing children up by age and making a variety of activities available.
Children that attend Run the Race take part in games, stories, crafts, sports, field trips, tutoring and snacks. Each day begins with a hot lunch and a word of advice from Muha.
During the summer months, OSU football players attend weekly to help the children with sports and to facilitate a “Summer Olympics” program, with the grand prize being tickets to a game.
Also during the summer, students from The Ohio State University’s Master Gardeners program teach the children to garden. They oversee the planting and then return once weekly to help with picking and weeding. The fruit and vegetables from the garden are then given to the children to take home.
“Sometimes, they just eat it right away!’ said Muha.
Lessons are also offered during special hours for instruments and voice, given by local musicians and OSU students. Muha hopes to put on a concert in their newly acquired gym once the children have had more lessons.
During the school year, the club turns into an after school program.
Muha has partnered with another local mother who lost her son, Jodie Sanders, to “turn tragedy into success” with the club. Sanders lost her son, Justin, in an automobile accident.
Sanders drives a van around each day to pick up children who have no other way to get to the center.
“It takes patience,’ said Sanders.
Run the Race is funded purely through donations.
“We don’t have any grants or government funding,” said Snyder.
All staff, tutors and instructors are volunteers. All food and supplies are donated or purchased by donated money.
“We are really blessed with volunteers,” said Muha.
The organization is, however, badly in need of funds. To help raise money for the club, they are hosting the first annual Summerfest Aug. 1 at Holton Park, the large green space located behind the recreation facility.
The event will include barbeque, local bands, a talent show, a car and motorcycle show, vendor sales, games, face painting and a safety area with the Columbus Divisions of police and fire, as well as the armed forces. While some featured events are free, others are being offered at a low cost, with all proceeds benefiting Run the Race.
To make a donation to the Run the Race Club, or for more information about Summerfest, call Rhonda Snyder at 205-6441.
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