PORT ORCHARD — Even after months of planning and spreading the word throughout the South Kitsap community, normal folks might have nonetheless folded up their proverbial tents and headed home after encountering sheets of rain on Saturday, Sept. 28, the day of their planned 5K benefit run in support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
But if you know South Kitsap High students Piper Willson and Joseph Laws, it’s evident that quitting is not in their DNA. Despite the miserable weather, the pair was all smiles with the knowledge they were able to compel about 180 people to turn up in the pouring rain and run 3.1 miles throughout McCormick Woods to raise funds to fight cystic fibrosis.
Because Willson’s close friend Lily has cystic fibrosis, the CF Foundation is a charity she’s deeply passionate about. When she was younger, Piper learned her friend was not going to be able to live a long, healthy life. The revelation broke Willson’s heart, but the then-7-year-old girl decided to do something that could one day eventually change that diagnosis.
Like many young kids, she set up a lemonade stand. But in this case, she was in it for the cash proceeds. Willson was able to earn $200 for the CF Foundation. And last weekend — nine years later — she partnered with her friend Joseph with a goal of raising more than $1,000 this time.
Unafraid of aiming high, the South Kitsap juniors spent their summer months seeking out sponsors, partners and participants within South Kitsap and neighboring communities. The pair — in conjunction with the South Kitsap DECA chapter — received support from business and community members, such as Les Schwab Tire, ReMax, Farmers Insurance, AirMasters, Tristan Manning, CrossFit, Kerrie Hurd, Nostalgia Bakery and Dreamers Photography.
Willson and Laws also received plenty of support from the people at South Kitsap High School, particularly from the school’s football team. After asking the players for their help, when the day of the 5K race arrived, more than 25 football players and coaches brushed aside the rain and chill in the morning after a home football game to participate.
Fortified by the help of students, parents, “CF warriors” and members of the community, the organizers collected donations, finished selling event shirts and added up proceeds received from registration fees. Willson and Law, who are South Kitsap DECA chapter members, were able to raise $5,475. And 13 cents!
Willson and Laws said they will be taking the charity project to competition with the SK DECA Chapter early in 2020, but they have committed to making this event a community-wide annual event.
“I hope that we can get the community even more involved next year,” Willson said after the inaugural 5K Run.
“It’s a great cause and we will absolutely be doing this again.”