By Joey McWilliams
DURANT – Colton’s Main Street Run has made its mark in Durant and that tradition continues this Saturday.
The eighth running of the fundraiser for Durant and Bryan County honoring Colton Sherrill will again give an opportunity for those walking or running to spend time with friends in the community and raise money for good causes.
Trace Sherrill talked about the purpose of one of Durant’s premier events.
“My wife, Dena, and I organized this run for the first time in 2010,” Sherrill said. “Our mission there is to put AEDs, automated external defibrillators, in schools and to provide training for the use of those and provide training for CPR for school staff and teachers.
“We have a scholarship at Southeastern in Colton’s name. Some of the money from Colton’s Run goes to that and we give at least one $1,000 scholarship every year.”
Colton Sherrill (1997-2008), son of Trace and Dena, was 10 years old when he passed away from an unknown heart defect while playing basketball. Colton enjoyed playing sports and the Run honors him and benefits Bryan County at the same time. And participation is increasing annually.
“It’s grown quite a bit,” Trace Sherill said. “In the past years, the participation has increased anywhere from 20-25 percent every year so far. Last year, we had in the neighborhood of 1,500 persons that participated, that includes walkers and 5K and 10K runners.”
This year’s Colton’s Main Street Run is Saturday, Oct. 21. Not only is there still time to sign up to run, but also there is still time to sign up to volunteer for the day. And many volunteers are needed.
“My wife does a lot of the background work and working with the registrations and keeping track of everything – she’s the Race Director,” Trace Sherrill said. “We also have a committee of people who have been with us from the very beginning. Everybody has their piece of the preparations for Colton’s Run, all the way from making sure we have the right number of port-a-potties in the right places, to going around a few days before passing out cards to houses along the route making sure people know this is going to be happening.
“(They tell people), ‘Your life may be disrupted a little bit. You can’t get out on this roadway for an hour or so. And if you’d like to come out and cheer on the runners, it would be appreciated.’
Sherrill said there are more than 200 volunteers, involved in many things from protecting intersections through which the runners pass to cooking meals for the participants.
“We have a whole crew there that does breakfast burritos for the runners. We have what we call Main Street Muffins. We have a whole group of ladies that start cooking these muffins, over 1,000 every year. We try to give everybody breakfast and bananas and it’s a big deal. It takes a lot of people. There’s no way we could do it on our own.”
Durant Main Street also has a big part to play in the Run. Trace Sherrill said this was because Dena was on the Main Street board when Colton was young and was active in what was going on.
“Every time Main Street was doing a fundraiser, like selling fireworks, or whatever, Colton would be there,” Sherrill said. “He really enjoyed doing things like working at the fireworks stand and being there.
“After he passed away, someone approached us – and I was into running – and they said why don’t you guys partner up with Main Street and do a fundraiser. And so Main Street and Colton’s Run share in the proceeds of Colton’s Run.
“We couldn’t do it without their office helping us organize this and provide basically a home base and a phone and an office where people can go to if they are interested in any aspect of Colton’s Run. So it’s a combined effort between Colton’s Run and Durant Main Street to put on Colton’s Run.”
The proceeds raised are split between Colton’s Run and Durant Main Street. Sherrill said the funds that have gone to Colton’s Run have gone to purchase AEDs (more than 60 have been bought for county schools) and the scholarship. And there has been an extra project recently.
“One of our big projects has been working with Southeastern to develop a cross-country track on First Street behind the SOSU softball field,” Sherrill said. “There are different phases of that project, but the basics of the project have been completed.
“They just did a high school cross-country meet there about four weeks ago and they had about 700 students there from across Oklahoma and north Texas, even. Dena and I feel like we’ve really been blessed by the community in their support of Colton’s Run and we’re really thankful for that.”
Two years ago, Trace and Dena went a little further with the finances, as well. Colton was in the Class of 2015 at Durant and in his honor, 10-15 additional $1,000 scholarships were given, as a recognition of his senior year.
Sherrill encouraged people to sign up as there is still time to do so online and acknowledged that he is still affected by this time of year.
“It’s an emotional time for Dena and I. We think about Colton every day. But during Colton’s Run time, it’s a lot of work and sometimes it’s hectic, especially for my wife when she’s trying to get all the pre-run things in order so they will go smoothly on the day of.
“But the bottom line is, we appreciate the support of the community. We feel like we are really blessed by the people of Durant and Bryan County. And we just want to encourage everyone that wants to get out and walk or run to come on down on Oct. 21. The walk starts at 8:15 this year and the 5K and 10K start at 9:00.
“So we would love to have you and appreciate the community’s support.”