Community comes out for run

On Saturday, Sept. 19, on what was supposed to be the 51st Hillsboro Arts and Crafts Fair, the streets of Hillsboro were still filled with more than the average number of people for a Saturday. But this time, all the money was going straight to a scholarship fund rather than into any vendor’s pockets.

Over 300 hundred participants and countless volunteers showed up to the “Run your Race” 2K Color Fun Run/Walk to honor Demarius Cox and raise money for his scholarship fund.

Cox was only 15 when he died in June of 2019 from health-related issues at summer camp. His death hit his community of Hillsboro hard. The loss has continued to be felt by many, and the love so many feel for Demarius and his family is still evident. And it was seen on Saturday.

“This is one of the largest turnouts for any run event I have provided traffic control for in the 28 years I have worked here…. Outstanding,” said Hillsboro Assistant Chief of Police Jessey Hiebert.

The event happened Saturday morning.

The event committee consisted of Dustin Dalke, Jesse Allen, Demarius’s mother Ciara Cox and Janet Whisenhunt. And so many volunteers helped as well.

“We have so many volunteers to thank including the City of Hillsboro Police & Fire Departments, HMBC Youth Group, HMHS XC team, HMBC Church members, Food Bank volunteers, the Igloo and Rhubarb Market at the event, Mayor Lou Thurston, friendly neighbors along the route cheering the race participants,” said Whisenhunt. “The ‘First call’ community leaders called to assist with race organization included Cait Hall (Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce), Kodi Panzer (Panzer Chiropractic), and Caren Funk (City of Hillsboro). Each of them graciously offered their expertise and local connections to offer services towards the event which made all the difference.”

The committee expressed appreciation for all the hard work on the part of the many people to help make the “Run Your Race” Color Fun Run a huge success.

“Hillsboro is the community to live and thrive in, and Saturday’s community event was proof that we are doing both….together. The event was generously supported by local businesses, community patrons of all ages (including several multi-generational families) as well as Tabor College swim and basketball teams. The event raised over $5,000 benefiting the ‘Demarius Lives’ Scholarship Fund! We can’t thank the community enough for their support and generosity shown not only to the Cox Family but the event as well,” said Whisenhunt.

The Cox family and some of their relatives were there with both smiles and tears expressing appreciation to all who came.

“It was an emotional day. . . it felt good to be in the presence of God’s love. It’s an unspeakable joy to still know that even a year later, Demarius is not forgotten. The willingness of the community to come together and honor him for a cause for future graduates is amazing. Our hearts are full,” said Ciara and Demetrius Cox.

The day was emotional and moving for many.

Several comments were overheard as people visited about the community they felt just from the one event.

“This is the best day of my life!” and “This is the best day I’ve EVER lived in Kansas!” and “Let’s do this again!” were just a few.

And one committee member seemed to sum it all up well.

“This event spoke volumes of the heart of the Hillsboro community which in turn speaks of the abundance of God’s heart. If you break down the ‘Demarius Lives’ Color Run to its core, you’ll find out that it’s not about the event at all. The core’s foundation is about a community that cares, loves, weeps, shares, and celebrates together. It was said over and over again that it’s the people that made this enjoyable, fun, and impactful. Not only are we connected to the Cox family in so many ways, we are connected to each other and this is a testament to that.” said Dalke.