WORTHINGTON — Get ready to run — or merely walk — for a good cause when the 11th annual MK5K takes place in Worthington next week.

As in the past, this year’s two-mile walk and 5k run, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 7, at the Nobles County Fairgrounds, will benefit the Southwest Crisis Center and the Mary Kay Foundation.

“Last year, for the 10th annual MK5K, we had races in both the 5k and 10k distances,” said Teresa Widboom, a regional Mary Kay sales director who has been a coordinator of the local endeavor from the start.

“We’re going back to the 5k and two-mile fun walk in 2019, which offers a lot of flexibility for participants in terms of age and ability.

“This can be a really fun event for families, with some parents even pushing strollers, and you can customize your distance on the walk if needed.”

While open to runners of all levels and intensity, the 5k offers a reward in the form of medals to those who approach it more competitively.

“There are medals awarded to the top three finishers in both the men’s and women’s division,” Widboom said.

No matter one’s ultimate time or distance, all registered participants will receive the event’s 2019 heather gray T-shirt that sports a teal logo, as well as water, bananas and granola bars, at the race’s completion.

The non-profit Mary Kay Foundation was created in 1996 to raise funds for research into cancers that primarily affect women, and to combat domestic violence. Those missions neatly dovetail with the work of the Southwest Crisis Center.

“The Mary Kay sales force throughout the country was encouraged to find ways to contribute locally within the realm of that two-pronged mission, so a few years in to the MK5K we developed a partnership with the SWCC to keep more of the funds local, and we’ve been working with them ever since,” said Widboom.

“Today, the SWCC gets the majority of the MK5K proceeds and 25% goes to the Mary Kay Foundation.”

Kari Voss-Drost, assistant director of the SWCC, said the organization values the cooperative effort and resulting financial support.

“The MK5K proceeds we receive are put toward our safe housing project,” said Voss-Drost.

“In the most recent quarter, we provided safe housing for 45 nights, which is a pretty high figure for us in a single quarter; we’re definitely seeing a need for safe housing.”

Voss-Drost explained that safe housing is typically used for people in domestic or sexual violence situations.

“It’s more than just the cost of a hotel because usually, someone fleeing due to domestic violence has left quickly and they need hygiene items, underwear, food — all of that is part of it,” said Voss-Drost.

With the boost given from the MK5K, available dollars for the SWCC’s safe housing program stretch further.

“Our funding comes from private donations, private foundations and competitive grants we request from state or federal sources,” said Voss-Drost.

“We don’t always know how much we will get in state housing funds, for instance, so this event really bolsters what we have.”

Another draw for the 2019 MK5K’s timing next week is that free fair food will be offered beginning at 6 p.m.

Widboom notes that the Rock-Nobles Cattlemen, Hy-Vee, the Nobles County Corn and Soybean Growers, the Nobles County Farm Bureau, the Nobles County Fair Board and the Nobles County American Dairy Association will provide up to 1,000 hamburgers (topped with cheese) and ears of sweet corn (slathered in butter) to fair attendees.

“It’s nice the MK5K coincides with the opening of the Nobles County Fair and free food, although runners might want to wait until after the race to eat,” suggested Widboom.

Added Voss-Drost, “We’ve had a successful partnership with Mary Kay over the past decade, and this is such a fun community event.

“It’s great to see all the people who come together, both those who participate in it and those who volunteer, and we appreciate all the support.”

Widboom concurs.

“It’s a perfect opportunity to get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air — the weather should be favorable — and it’s good to see the proceeds support such worthy programs,” said Widboom.

“We’re excited to do this on the opening day of the fair.”

The MK5K takes place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, at the Nobles County Fairgrounds. To register, visit www.mnswcc.org/mk5k. Participants can also register on site Wednesday beginning at 6 p.m. up to race time. For questions or more information, call the Southwest Crisis Center at 376-4311.