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Walkers and Runners: Get ready for the 9th annual Escape to Belle Isle – The Spirit of Detroit Challenge

The 9th annual Escape to Belle Isle race invites runners and walkers of all ages to Belle Isle on July 15 to get active and be part of a community of supporters for the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. The 5K and 10K race begin at 8:30 a.m. There is also a two-mile walk/race.

This year, the race will envelop the GOah Noah race – an annual fall run/walk held in Shelby Township, which has benefitted the House for the past eight years.

The namesake of the GOah Noah race, Noah Wexler, will be there to cheer racers on. A senior at Utica High School, he survived a rare form of brain cancer (medulloblastoma) at age nine. Since then, his mother Renee Sullivan and father Bob Wexler have raised funds for the House through the Goah Noah race. They were residents of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit when Noah was undergoing treatment at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

The race course starts and ends at the Belle Isle Casino, with a gorgeous view of the Detroit River. The cost is $35 for adults and $25 for children who run in the Kids’ Fun Run, a 400-yard race that starts at 10 a.m. Adult registrants will receive a dry-fit tech shirt and custom medal; kids will receive a T-shirt, medal, and trophy. The top male and female in the 5K and 10K will receive a gift card prize.

Race organizer Jenna Greenman, of West Bloomfield, will serve as master of ceremonies and announce the winners. Her husband Milt Greenman will oversee the volunteers and set up the course; his volunteer stint begins at 3 a.m. Both are attorneys who represent clients in medical malpractice cases, with Jenna representing the defendant and Milt representing the plaintiff for their respective firms.

Jenna is president-elect of the board of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. They are avid fundraisers for the nonprofit organization, which has a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.

“There are hundreds of families who stay at the House each year while they are taking care of a child in the hospital. Without the support of the community who attend fundraisers such as this race, we couldn’t provide housing at such a low rate,” said Jennifer Litomisky, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit. “The race on Belle Isle is always a fun time and it raises a significant amount for the House.”

There will be drinking water on the course and light refreshments after the race. Kids can get their faces painted and sketch artist Darryl Swift will draw fun portraits. New this year is a Magic Mirror photo booth. D.J. Michael Karach will play music that brings smiles and puts people in a dancing mood. It’s common to see babies in strollers, older seniors, and people walking their dogs in the walking part of the race.

The race is endorsed by the Michigan Fitness Foundation and the Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness, Health and Sports.

Jenna Greenman said, “Runners have told me that this race is on par with training programs for the Detroit Free Press marathon – advising them to run a 10k race in July. Come out early on a Saturday morning and get your training done and then enjoy time on the island.”

Volunteers are a big part of the race. This year, approximately 30 employees from La-Z-Boy and Kohl’s are volunteering at the race. The race is sponsored by Kitch Attorneys & Counselors, Absopure and Running Fit.

Register online by 11 p.m. on July 13 to guarantee a tech shirt. Participants can pick up their shirt and number or register from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. on race day at the Belle Isle Casino. A timing chip on the race bib keeps track of winners and times, which will be posted online after the race. There is no state park admission fee on race day for participants.

Register online: www.escapetobelleisle.com. Contact: Jenna Greenman, 810-333-1740 or belleislerace@kitch.com.