February 07, 2018 | Las Cruces Sun-news online
Las Crucens can raise money for a local good cause while sporting their relationship status in the 9th annual Community Options, Inc. Cupid’s Chase 5K, beginning at 9 a.m. on the historic Mesilla Plaza, on Saturday, Feb. 10.
Participants in the run will receive either a red shirt, representing couples, or a white shirt, indicating they are single. All the money raised will go directly to disabled citizens of the Las Cruces and El Paso area.
“Our money doesn’t go to corporate around the country, it stays here,” said Jessica Ochoa-Hernandez, Community Options, Inc. director of supported employment. “It has brought equipment, computers, laptops, supplies, field trips, birthday cakes and more to our disabled, so that none of these things have to come out of their own pocket.”
Cupid’s Chase is more than just a run. It’s also an opportunity for runners to celebrate Valentine’s Day. In addition to color-coded mingle shirts, several vendors will provide activities and services, including a photo booth and Desert Devil Crossfit gym equipment. Downtown Desert Yoga will offer Zumba and yoga instruction to help runners limber up prior to the run. A mariachi performance will be presented on the plaza gazebo.
“We always have runners celebrating at these races,” Ochoa-Hernandez said. “They wear wings and tutus. We even had a marriage proposal and a brief officiated wedding at one race.”
Runners with any range of physical ability are encouraged to participate. The race does not have to be run. Many participants walk, push babies in strollers or walk dogs. Those who are not mobile enough to do the entire 5K often contribute by handing out medals and awards at the end of the run. This year’s 5K prizes will be medals. Each runner will receive a bag with goods donated from sponsors. In the past, runner bags have included coupons, appetizers at restaurants, free services, stress balls, snacks and more.
Raul Fernandez, who has benefited from funds raised by the 5K in the past, has also participated as a runner. He began participating when his sister brought him to the run.
“The race helps me train and exercise,” Fernandez said. “I hope to get across the finish line fast again and win another medal.”
Out of all the benefits Fernandez has received from race funds, he appreciates field trips the most. Some places Fernandez has been able to visit include Sparky’s in Hatch, Wet n’ Wild, and White Sands National Monument.
“My favorite trip was White Sands,” he said. “I was able to slide down a lot of sand that looked like snow.”
Along with raising funds, Cupid’s Chase also raises awareness about people with disabilities in the community.
Participants in Cupid’s Chase receive either a red shirt, indicating they are in a relationship, or a white shirt, which means they are single.
“The individuals we provide services for are so intelligent and capable of contributing to the community and they often get overlooked,” Ochoa-Hernandez said. “There is a lack of awareness about individuals with disabilities in general and the run informs people of the services we provide and what these individuals are capable of doing.”
Runners can register for Cupid’s Chase, as teams or as individuals, at the Community Options, Inc. office, 2500 Missouri Ave., before the race. Race day registration will also be available at 7 a.m. on the Mesilla Plaza. The fee is $30 before the race, but will raise to $40 the day of the race.