Northlake race route

You’ve been running or walking the neighborhood during the pandemic, and you’ve got calves of steel to prove it. Consider yourself officially qualified for the Lake Highlands Junior Women’s League’s annual Run for the Highlands Saturday.

Last year’s run was canceled to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but LHJWL’s 125 members have a virtual run on tap this year, with 3 preplanned routes options and 6 tents along the way for snacks and water. If you prefer, you can complete the 5K on your treadmill or in your neighborhood – with a group of friends or alone with earbuds listening to your favorite podcast or music.

It would have been simpler to skip the event one more time and host an online fundraiser, but league president Bronwyn Jefferson said her volunteers – and neighbors – have grown to look forward to the event over the past 16 years.

“It has truly become a Lake Highlands tradition,” says Jefferson. “We really wanted to give the community something to look forward to and a fun way to give back.”

Since their founding in 2004, LHJWL has raised more than $850,000 for community projects and causes, including the all-abilities playground at Flag Pole Hill, the Audelia Library children’s area, the recreation center’s Wildcat Fun Zone inside and play art sculptures outside, and banners which line major Lake Highlands streets touting community events. Funds from the virtual run will support Feed Lake Highlands.

“We believe that a beautiful community is a healthy community,” says Shannon McCracken, philanthropy chair. “Feed Lake Highlands is on a mission each week with supplemental groceries serving only LH ZIP codes. When COVID-19 hit, Feed LH saw a 300% increase in need and served an incremental 600 households within the Lake Highlands area. Partnering with this organization also offers a variety of ways for our members to serve our community in ways that we haven’t been able to in the past.”

The pandemic created challenges, Jefferson and McCracken admit, for members who crave to get out and interact with neighbors who need a little extra care.

“We are hands on and enjoy being personally involved within our community,” says McCracken. “We do this in a variety of ways including coat drives, food and paper bag collections for Feed LH, providing uniforms for children, and serving at the Epic Book Mobile. Our mission is to instill a sense of community through philanthropic efforts. The ladies in LHJWL have a heart for community and ensuring that all of our neighbors are cared for.”

You can register for the run here or purchase raffle tickets here. The event is April 24 and 25, and the $45 registration fee includes a race shirt and race bib. Oh, and if you snap a selfie as you finish the run on your treadmill or while walking around the block, post it to social media with the hashtags #LHJWL and #VirtualRTH21. The women of LHJWL want to share in your accomplishment.

LHE race route