Participants will be able to glow while running and walking to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention at a 5K walk this weekend.
The Ayala family will host the sixth annual Glow 4 Gabby 5K Walk Saturday at Suck’s Lake. The walk will begin at 9 p.m. Those 5 and younger are free to participate in the walk. Ages 6 to 14 are $10, while 15-year-olds and older are $20. Those who wish to participate in Glow 4 Gabby can register at the event.
Bianca Ayala, one of the event’s organizers, said the goal of the event is to keep her sister Gabby’s memory alive, as well as to raise awareness of suicide and for suicide prevention.
Saturday’s walk will start at Suck’s Lake, with participants walking along the bike trail until they reach the Grand Island Cemetery. There will be lights along the trail to help guide the participants.
“Before the participants leave the cemetery, you will go past my sister’s grave,” Ayala said. “That way, my family and close friends can stop by and see her. Then, they get back on the bike trail and go back to Suck’s Lake.”
She said Glow 4 Gabby is “a little bit of both” a race and a walk. She said the race is not timed, nor are bibs given out. However, the first five participants in the 15 and under, and 60 and older age groups to cross the finish line will receive a medal.
“We do have some competitive kids and adults. We have other people who participate just to support the cause and come out and walk,” Ayala said. “When we get ready to line up, we say, ‘If you are competing runners, line up first.’ Then, the walkers line up behind them. That way, it is not a mad dash with the runners trying to weave around the walkers because the runners are up front.”
She said that out of the 360 registered participants so far, only about 150 are competitive, while the rest are walkers.
In addition to the race/walk, Ayala said, Glow 4 Gabby will feature airbrush tattoos by Helium Salon and one-minute massages by Cobler Chiropractic.
She said she is blown away by the success of the event and cannot believe it has been going strong for six years.
“It is amazing to see the progression that we have had over the years,” she said. “Even the amount of people signed up has gone up. As of today, I have 360 people signed up. When we had the softball tournament, it lasted only two years. We decided to try a 5K and see what happens. It became a tradition with our family where the event is automatically in the calendar and everybody knows the plan for it. It grows every year.”
Ayala said this year’s Glow 4 Gabby 5K Walk has at least 20 volunteers helping to make the event a success. The volunteers help participants cross Blaine and Harrison streets and guide them on which way to go.
In addition to the volunteers, she said, there are 23 event sponsors. Hy-Vee donated water bottles to be given to each participant after the race. Raising Cane’s also donated lemonade.
Ayala said she encourages anyone looking to have fun Saturday night to attend the Glow 4 Gabby 5K Walk.
“If people are looking for something that is family-oriented and just want to try something new and be around positive people, this event makes for a fun night,” she said.