It started with a pair of old sneakers.
Steve Jones of Spokane was jogging up Doomsday Hill one afternoon when he saw a pair on a boy training for Bloomsday.
The shoes were falling apart, recalled Jones, a Bloomsday board member. But the boy said he had no other pair.
That’s how Jones and other Bloomsday officials came up with a program for young athletes who can’t afford to buy new shoes.
“There are kids in this town who are good runners but aren’t able to purchase a quality pair of running shoes,” he said. “Good shoes make a big difference in performance and attitude. We wanted to find a way to enhance running and physical fitness.”
Bloomsday and one of its sponsors, New Balance, plan to give away 75 new pairs this month.
Known as the “Youth Incentive Program,” the project is being administered by the Chase Youth Commission and the Spokane Neighborhood Action Program.
In addition to financial need, students who wish to apply for a pair of new shoes must be involved in their middle school or high school track team.
“We’re looking for kids who love to run,” Jones said.
Eligible students will receive a voucher to purchase a pair of shoes from one of several sporting good stores in town.
To apply for the “Youth Incentive Program,” students should contact their track coaches. Call the Spokane Neighborhood Action Program at 456-7164 for more information.
It’s no secret that people from all over the world visit Spokane to participate in Bloomsday.
While most are prize-winning athletes, some come simply because they love to run.
Take it from four Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute graduates.
Masako Harada, Yoshiko Fukunaga, Saeko Matsui and Miyuki Yamamoto, all of Osaka, are returning to the area next month just to run Bloomsday.
“So many students who finish our program talk about how good Bloomsday is,” said Hiroshi Takaoka, Mukogawa’s executive president. “They really like Spokane.”
The four students, who graduated in 1993 and 1994, will take advantage of two Japanese holidays that fall right in the middle of Bloomsday festivities: Japan’s Constitution Day and Children’s Day.
They’ll be here for three days and will run the race along with 194 other Japanese students and staff from Mukogawa.
If you forgot to turn in your Bloomsday registration form, save yourself a stamp.
The Bloomsday office won’t process any applications submitted after the April 12 deadline.
“At this point they might as well hold on to their money until Bloomsday weekend,” said Karen Heaps, the race coordinator.
Late registration will be available at the Ag Trade Center on May 2 from 2 to 8 p.m., and May 3 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. No entries will be accepted May 4, the day of the race.
The fee has now gone up to $25.
So far, Bloomsday officials have counted more than 43,500 forms that were turned in before the deadline.
They still have to process three mail trays, which contain about 7,000 additional entries.
“We’re swamped,” said Regina M. Runyan, a U.S. Bank employee in charge of processing entry forms.
At the Spokane Regional Library downtown, officials are using 18 computers to enter information from the more than 50,000 early applications.
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