By Bill Spinks

Are you a runner who’s been itching to get back out and blow off some of that stay-at-home steam? A unique fundraiser is underway in Ellis County to help residents in need fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has forced numerous running events this spring to be canceled. However, several local running clubs have planned a virtual run to help non-profit organizations, in particular the United Way of West Ellis County, that provide direct community service.

Kasey Cheshier, UWWEC executive director, said he and fellow runner Paul Box set up the fundraising event. Box is the race director of the annual Hachie 50 event, which this year was postponed to October because of the pandemic.

“We're stronger together and never before have our communities needed to come together to support each other than during these crazy times,” Cheshier said. “Paul and I helped organize this virtual run to support local nonprofits in the area who are offering direct service to residents in the area.”

The total fee for signing up for the virtual run is $25, and additional donations may also be made upon signing up. All proceeds will go to support the United Way of West Ellis County COVID-19 Relief Fund. Registration is available online at

Ellis County's "Stronger Together" Virtual Run allows you to simply run/walk/jog a 5k, 10k, 15k, half marathon or marathon anytime, anywhere over the next two months (through June 13).

“You choose your socially responsible location, whether on the treadmill or in your neighborhood, and record your time,” Cheshier said. “We’ll celebrate your victory with a limited edition ‘Stronger Together’ die-cast medal shipped to you.”

Medals are limited to the first 100 participants. Times and distances will be tracked, and the top three times for each distance will be recognized. A link to submit times is available on the UWWEC website.

The Ellis County COVID-19 Response & Recovery Fund supports residents who are struggling in the economic fallout from the pandemic. Donations will support relief programs and services to help with vital needs. The COVID-19 Relief Fund also enables the United Way of West Ellis County to address the longer-term impacts of the outbreak and recovery.