MEDFORD, Ore— The endless smiles, laughs, and hugs don’t initially give the impression of a run that was born out of a tragedy.

Posted: Jan 25, 2020 4:08 PM
Updated: Jan 26, 2020 3:27 PM

On your way through the ballroom, you hear a child shout “It is the best day of the year!”

Just behind him, families take goofy pictures, with sunglasses filters.

The 4th annual “Run with Grace 5k” at the Rogue Valley Country Club is a hub of positivity. The sad part of it all is that it was stemmed from the death of Grace Holt. Holt was a Medford native. She took her own life at just 15-years-old.

Holt’s mother Susan started the 5k in an effort to celebrate the life of her daughter. Susan wanted to raise awareness for teen suicide, at the same time. What the run has become is a lot more than anyone could have expected.

At the start of the day, runners view a video message from Susan and Grace’s close friends. This is followed by moment of silence for Grace.

After that, it is race time. You get to hear the constant encouragement from parents to their children.

It is early morning, and it is raining. Nobody seems to care about that. They are there to have a good time.

The end of the race is not where to effort to help ends. Through the run, the “The Grace and Kindness Scholarship Fund” was created. The scholarships are designed to send children to summer camps, which they have sent hundreds of kids. The scholarships only have two requirements. According to “The children must be exceptionally kind and have a financial need.”

Run with Grace” raises money throughout the entire year. The race is not the only part of Susan’s goal to help teens.

At the race though, it is easy to see the effect that the run has had on our community.

“I know I have been running for a long time, but I feel like this would actually have an effect on a change to people’s lives.” said runner Jace Clark.

“It is really awesome to see everyone come together and really grow, and kids change and make a difference. Because it is a super common thing amongst teens our age, especially these days,” said South Medford student Callie Follett.

The run accomplishes a goal to make talking about teen mental health more comfortable.

The most important piece of it all is what Grace’s mother has to say in reflection.

“To do something positive. That is exactly what is happening right here. I think that Grace would be happy about that.”