Owatonna Young Life rang in the New Year with their first 5K walk/run. Director Lindsay Thompson said they were looking for a new tradition to start, while raising some money to support youth. She was happy with the response to the event and how the community continues to get behind Young Life.

"We've been really impressed," she told me while bundled up against the teen temperatures and handing out hot chocolate to participants. "It's the first year. We just really took just an easy approach to it. Of just trying to get people out, something positive to look forward to...We needed some extra funds. We have kids that go to camp every year who don't have enough. We thought, 'Let's try it. Let's start now.' And every year, maybe, we can build upon it."

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The event was promoted as a virtual or in-person run/walk, starting from Lake Kohlmeier, "We've actually had more people come than we thought over the last couple of hours with their families and with their friends." Organizers placed signs along the way with encouraging messages as participants weaved along the trail and through Morehouse Park past skaters on the newly opened rinks. A cup of hot chocolate and a finisher's sticker awaited at the end.

Thompson said Young Life has found ways to keep in touch, "It's been a crazy year. We have done a lot smaller groups. But kids really want to be a part of them. So we've actually seen our numbers go up in some of our small group ministry...January, we're going to do some events. We can do some things outside: sledding and skating...Just to keep people outside and having kids getting together. They want to be together."

Thompson said she is already thinking about the annual cake auction and is bracing for the need of holding it virtually again this year. She hopes to have some sort of a walk-thru aspect to their biggest fund raiser of the year. Watch for more details. The auction is scheduled for April 18.

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