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Running for shelter

Preparing packets for the MK5K are (front, from left) Madelyn Kremer, Myranda Widboom, Luke Gordon (back, from left), Kari Voss-Drost, Thi Synavone, Violeta Cota and Teresa Widboom. Brian Korthals/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — If you want to squeeze in a little exercise, support a worthy cause and visit some humongous hogs, then plan to visit the Nobles County Fairgrounds tonight to participate in the sixth annual Mary Kay 5K & Family Fun Walk.

Registration begins at 6 p.m., with the race slated to start at 7 p.m.

Medals will be awarded to the top three finishers in the men’s and women’s divisions, but for the most part it’s a casual event with a purpose that is more about encouraging fitness and lending a hand to women in need than about sheer competition.

“It can be a walk or a run, whichever you choose, and it’s a pretty low-key, very family-friendly event,” said Teresa Widboom, the 5K’s chief coordinator and a Mary Kay sales director. “The Mary Kay 5K is a trademark fundraising event for the Mary Kay Foundation, which has a two-fold mission: to fund research and development for cancers that affect women; and to provide outreach against domestic violence, primarily by sending money to women’s shelters across the country.”

Enter the Southwest Crisis Center (SWCC), which volunteered a couple of its staff members to help at the 2013 race.

“I learned recently that the SWCC’s Safe Housing Initiative was out of money for its fiscal year and wouldn’t have funds for that program for a few months,” said Widboom, whose Mary Kay headquarters happens to be located just two doors away from the SWCC office on Worthington’s Diagonal Road.

“So this year, half of the Mary Kay 5K proceeds will go to the SWCC’s Safe Housing Initiative and the other half to the Mary Kay Foundation,” she added. “I think it’s important for people to know that a lot of their dollars will be staying close to home this year.”

Kari Voss Drost, SWCC coordinator of Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, is grateful for the boost.

“Teresa asked us if we could be part of the 5K team again this year, and we wondered if some of the funds could go for our local emergency program, since the Mary Kay Foundation works with women’s shelters,” Drost said.

“We’re not a shelter, but we provide the same kind of services a shelter offers.”

Widboom readily agreed, and the deal was sealed.

“In the last fiscal year, the SWCC provided emergency housing and assistance to 47 women and 52 children in the five-county area (Nobles, Rock, Pipestone, Cottonwood, Jackson and Rock) we serve,” noted Drost.

“Although that is only for one to two nights maximum, we also provide food, over-the-counter medication that may be needed, diapers, pajamas and sometimes underwear or other clothing, if the victim had to leave unexpectedly and couldn’t safely return.

“Some needs may go unmet, due to decreased funding, or if the demand increases,” Drost continued. “With Teresa designating funds from the MK5K to the SWCC Safe Housing program, we can continue to help women find safety and envision a life free from violence.”

Drost, other SWCC staff and at least one SWCC board member will aid Widboom and other Mary Kay consultants in running tonight’s MK5K.

“One independent beauty consultant, Katie Soderholm Hansen, has helped design the graphics and T-shirts for our event every year,” mentioned Widboom. “We’re excited about the partnership with SWCC, and in 2013 we were recognized nationally as one of the top 50 fundraising events for the Mary Kay Foundation.

“Our event has grown significantly each year,” Widboom added. “We started out with maybe 75 participants, and last year we had between 150 to 175. We’re certainly hoping for at least that many, or more, this week.”

Widboom also relishes the MK5K’s partnership with the Nobles County Fair and likes that the local MK5K incorporates a little country flair.

“I grew up with the county fair, and since the county fair celebrates rural living, this is a great way to bring more people out to the fair and take in its sights and sounds while also getting people to focus on physical fitness and exercisem,” she said.

The sixth annual Mary Kay 5K Run and Family Fun Walk is today at 7 p.m., with registration beginning at 6 p.m. at the Nobles County Fairgrounds, Worthington. Proceeds will benefit the Mary Kay Foundation and the Southwest Crisis Center’s Safe Housing Initiative. Cadillac sponsors of the event are First State Bank Southwest, Minnesota West, Real Estate Retrievers — Sarah Hayenga, Veterinary Medical Center, RadioWorks, Hy-Vee, Culligan and Sanford Health. More information may be found at calendar.