Race makes cents for scholarship

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— Victory surely will be on the minds of some of the participants in this year's First Impressions Tot Trot. That is, however, until the first flower, insect or other distraction comes into play.

The Tot Trot, a short race for children ages 8 and younger, takes place Sunday in conjunction with the Run for Literacy, the final event of the 2004 Steamboat Springs Running Series.

But unlike the adult races earlier Sunday morning, all Tot Trot participants will be declared winners.

"This is pretty low-key," said Renee Donahue, early childhood education manager for First Impressions of Routt County. "Everyone gets a first-place ribbon, everyone gets a goodie bag. It's just a fun atmosphere."

Diane Carter started the Tot Trot 11 years ago to instill a sense of community in children. First Impressions took over the race last year after Carter's Kinderhaus Family Center closed.

The race, in addition to providing a fun, relaxed atmosphere for local families, also helps raise money for a college scholarship for a local high school student. Instead of registration fees, children and families participating in the Tot Trot are asked to bring pennies or other monetary donations for the I Cent a Student to College scholarship program.

Last year's Tot Trot raised $200 toward the scholarship, which eventually reached $500 through a matching donation from Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger.

Hayden High School graduate Christina Reck, who plans to study child psychology and elementary education at the University of Northern Colorado, was last year's scholarship recipient.

"It's a nice way of linking young children with the idea of college," Donahue said of the scholarship program and its connection to the Tot Trot.

More than 80 children participated in last year's race, and Donahue hopes that number exceeds 100 this year.

"It was such a huge success last year," she said. "We hope it will be even better this year."

Registration isn't required for the Tot Trot, but parents will need to sign a release form in order for their children to participate.

The one-third-mile race, which will lead children around a five-acre parcel of land near the Steamboat Pilot & Today building, is expected to begin about 10:45 a.m., shortly after the completion of the adult races earlier Sunday morning.

Parents and children can sign up for the Tot Trot anytime before the race Sunday.

"It's just a nice, full-on community event," Donahue said.

An added bonus for youth participating is that the Routt County elementary school or child-care provider that boasts the highest number of Tot Trot participants will take home the prestigious Kinder Cup, last year captured by students at GrandKids Child Care Center.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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