Angels Take Flight steps out for children with 5K


April 4, 2013
Angels Take Flight founder Tamara Blake poses with a mile marker at last year's Angels Take Flight 5K at Forest Park in Springfield.
Reminder Publications submitted photo
By Chris Maza

chrism@thereminder.com

LONGMEADOW — The folks at Angels Take Flight are lacing up their shoes for the nonprofit's second-annual 5K walk/run with hopes that changes to this year's event will build upon last year's success.

"Last year we had 87 people participate, but this year, we are hoping to get an even larger group of runners and walkers," Angels Take Flight founder Tamara Blake said.

The 5K, which is slated for April 21, supports the nonprofit organization that works to help at-risk children. Its primary function is to provide luggage to children living in foster care, shelters or other group home settings, an idea that Blake came up with after seeing children carrying their belongings in trash bags.

In addition to luggage, Angels Take Flight hosts a toy drive every winter to provide Christmas presents to those same children.

The biggest change in the race this year will be its location. While the inaugural Angels Take Flight 5K took place at Forest Park in Springfield, she and other organizers heeded comments and suggestions on how to make the race better and opted to move it to Longmeadow.

The run/walk will start and end at 101 Cambridge Circle, across the street from Glenbrook Middle School with a route that includes Hanover Lane, Frank Smith Road, Inverness Lane, Kenmore Drive, Breckwood Drive and Wolf Swamp Road.

"Last year's course was very hilly and a lot of people commented to us about how difficult parts of it were, not only for runners, but also for walkers, especially people with strollers," Blake said. "With the new route, the course will be flat and fast."

Blake said the Longmeadow Police Department was very gracious in helping with the formulation of the route.

"We had to submit a plan for the course and our initial plan was rejected," Blake explained. "One of the officers was very generous with his time and helped us develop a safer route. After working on it with a computer program, he then took the time to drive the route with us so we both could see and get a better understanding of exactly where it was and what it looked like. I'm very grateful for his help."

This year's race will also feature official timing, something the first event did not have.

Blake said that since the organization's inception in 2010, she has been extremely pleased with its growth, adding that over the past year, it has garnered a great deal of attention, thanks in part to media coverage.

"There have been times where I have been out and overhead people talking about Angels Take Flight without realizing that I am a part of it," she said. "The response from the community had been phenomenal and it has been growing all the time."

Blake added that the organization has expanded to the point that a board of directors has been assembled. The group has also established a scholarship fund.

In addition to the 5K, Angels Take Flight also hosts events including a Christmas in July gala and a comedy showcase to raise luggage and monetary donations. Last year's comedy showcase featured three comedians, including Bill Posley, who appeared on the CBS show Survivor.

Registration forms for the Angels Take Flight 5K are available on the organization's website at http://angelstakeflight.com/events. Day-of-race registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Runners will step off at 9:30 a.m., followed by the walkers five minutes later. Awards will be given for those who finish in first, second and third place.

There will also be collection boxes for those who wish to donate toys or luggage.

Those who are unable to attend, but wish to donate may contact Blake at contactus@angelstakeflight.comor fill out the contact form at http://angelstakeflight.com/contact-us.


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