On the morning of May 18, the rain clouds took a slight break to allow over 400 people to participate in Payson’s ninth annual Pay it Forward 5K/1 mile Challenge — many of them elementary-aged children. The event that took place at Memorial Park is part of the city’s wellness initiative, with the focus of promoting fitness, and the added goal of giving back to the community.
The event had the low cost of $1 per entrant, with each elementary school competing to have the largest amount of entrants to earn money toward its physical education program. This year, Spring Lake took home first place with a cash prize of $150, Park View got second place with $75 and Wilson took third place, earning $30 to spend on physical education.
Kambrie Holt, a third grader at Wilson Elementary, who ran it with her mom and brothers, said the race made her feel good.
“I like to run the race because my mom runs it with me, and it makes me feel good,” she said.
Her mother agreed.
“I love that the city fun run is for all ages and abilities, from beginners on up,” Katie Holt said. “My kids look forward to being able to run the miles as well. The event is well attended and it’s fun to be part of it each year.”
Event director and city event organizer, Janeen Dean agrees that this event has had a positive impact on the community, but wanted to do more.
“I love this event, and wanted to give it more of a ‘pay it forward’ element, Dean said. “I decided that along with donating funds to local elementary schools, I wanted to give each person the chance to serve in the community as well.”
Dean contacted local businesses and was able to get over 200 $10 gift cards for event participants, and instructed each to go to the business and give the gift card to someone who is already shopping there.
One participant, Kaylene Hiatt did just that with her daughter, who received a gift card to Fast Gas in Payson.
“My daughter received a gas gift card, and we gave it away on Memorial Day,” Hiatt recalled. “We went in the store, saw a nice looking woman getting a drink and gave it to her. We explained that we participated in this event and were paying it forward. She then asked if she’s supposed to pay it forward and we told her the gift card was hers to use but if she wanted to pay it forward to someone else in a different way then it was up to her. I hope she does. It made my daughter feel really good to give it to the woman and I think it taught her a great lesson about giving to others anytime—not just charities or when people need it.”
Hiatt said she still has a card from Payson Pool, and will wait until it opens to pay it forward.
The “Pay it Forward” event happens each May, but we at Serve Daily encourage all to follow the lead of these individuals, and take the initiative to pay it forward when the opportunity arises.