Want to support local students, have fun, and work out at the same time? Lace-up your sneakers and pull on your running shorts – it’s time for I-5 Toyota Back to School Dash 5K Run-Walk. Now in its 13th year, the event will take place on Saturday, August 24 at 9:00 a.m. Bring the kids, friends, and even the dog for this fun, all-ages event.
The Dash is popular with some of the best runners in our area. Not competitive? No problem. This family-friendly 5K can be enjoyed by everyone. Parents with babies in strollers, kids on bikes, and folks who just want to walk and support the cause are all welcome. A favorite for locals, participants also come from as far south as Portland and as far north as Seattle.
The Dash begins and ends at I-5 Toyota in Chehalis, where they’re all about being bold, kind, and awesome. The event got its start when Toyota Motor Sales challenged all dealers to come up with an event benefiting their communities. I-5 Toyota wanted to do something fun everyone could enjoy. All proceeds this year go to Team Braylon.
Register early at I-5 Toyota or send an online request to guarantee you receive a cool T-shirt. After crossing the finish line, hang out and relish in the collective accomplishment with other participants. Enjoy refreshments and browse a variety of vendor booths.
In past years, the Dash raised as much as $8,000 in scholarship money. The funds benefited local graduating seniors from Lewis County high schools. In the last 13 years, I-5 Toyota has awarded 142 scholarships for a total of $92,452 to continuing education.
Where there are plenty of scholarships for top academic and athletic students, I-5 Toyota recognizes the average students and all-around good kids in the community. “The Average Joe Scholarship” fills that need for students who are attending a two-year, four-year, or vocational college.
I-5 Toyota President Heidi Pehl graduated from W.F. West High School and attended the University of Washington. “As a scholarship student myself, it had always been a dream to be able to help other young people pursue higher education,” she says. “Once our family was in a position to do this, it became a personal priority.”
Pehl particularly enjoys when past scholarship recipients participate or volunteer at the Back to School Dash. Local high school students volunteer as well, helping at the water station, turn around mark, and as flaggers along the way.
The event is made possible through the efforts of many helpful volunteers. The Silver Agency’s Chad and Coralee Taylor and their family are huge supporters. Their son, Franklin, is the event DJ. He keeps the party atmosphere going with awesome music.
Chehalis Parks and Recreation Department’s Recreation Manager Lilly Wall and Administration Assistant Tracey Cox helped start the event back in 2006. They’ve volunteered every year since.
I-5 Toyota’s own Tami Squires is the backbone of the event. She helped get it going and continues to make it successful each year.
The City of Chehalis Fire Department brings its fire truck. It’s a fun visual and a unique sound with which to start the race.
One year, a local celebrity runner known as “Speedo Man” made a guest appearance. A custom speedo with the dealership’s logo adorned his backside. View some of the previous year’s participants and why the employees at I-5 Toyota support the event on this great video.
One of Pehl’s favorite memories was of a young Dash runner living with disability. Her unadulterated joy as she crossed the finish line brought tears to Pehl’s eyes. “The Dash is truly one of my favorite reasons I’m a Toyota dealer,” Pehl says. “Getting to hold this event and participate with my own family every year is something I look forward to. The support that shows up each year is a gift to me that I cherish greatly.”
The I-5 Toyota Back to School Dash is a rewarding experience. Beyond passing the finish line and the accompanying sense of achievement, the real feel-good factor is thinking of the students you help. Support Team Braylon, succeed in a personal challenge and connect with community on Saturday, August 24. Register today for this great fundraiser.
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