Youth Essay Contest Recipients – 2023 Bridge Day 5k RUN

Active SWV’s 2023 Bridge Day 5k Youth Essay Contest was a great success this year, with five awardees each receiving free entry into the race for them and a friend or family member. To be considered for an award, interested youth were prompted to  submit a 250 word essay answering the following questions:

  • What motivates you to be physically active?
  • Why do you want to participate in the Bridge Day 5k

From there, Active SWV selected five recipients.

Congratulations to Leah White, Matthew Hunt, Monrae Zebo, Sailor Hall, and Lucas Raney for submitting their essays, winning free entry, and running in the 2023 Bridge Day 5k!

Read each racer’s story below. 

Leah White

“My dad has always motivated me to be active and stay in sports. I want to participate in the Bridge Day 5k because it’s something me and my dad have done together for years.

I have been running since I started Middle School. My parents have encouraged me to participate in sports since before I even started school. My dad and I have run together since I joined Cross Country in sixth grade. He has always been my motivation to run and stay active, even when it was hard and it hurt. Before I joined Cross Country, I knew absolutely nobody at my middle school. I’ve been very shy my whole life, but especially at the beginning of middle school due to Covid-19. Running brought me out of my shell in an extraordinary way. I never knew people were so kind and helpful before I met my middle school cross country and track teams and coaches. I was fully supported by everyone I met, no matter how slow I ran or what I placed. 

My dad and I have run the Bridge Day 5k for a few years, before either of us could even run a 5k. I want to run, and hopefully win it, for him. We’ve been there for each other through it all, and we’ve grown together not only as runners, but as people. If it wasn’t for him and his encouragement and support for me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would’ve never made the friends I have, and I would’ve never accomplished everything I have. My story and running journey isn’t over, it’s just beginning.”

Matthew Hunt

“My name is Matthew Hunt, and I am a 15 year old freshman at Riverside High School. I love to run and play sports. I ran track for two years at DMPS and I was very successful. I also make good grades, and I’m very athletic. I currently play football, and I’ve been practicing cardio. I’m fit, healthy, and determined. 

What motivates me to be physically active is my mindset. I want to be better, and if I keep working on what I want to be better with, I feel like I reach my goals in life. 

Why I want to participate in the Bridge Day 5k is because it would be an honor. I recently participated in the TRY-athlon, and I had a good time spending time with my family. This is why I want to be a part of the Bridge Day 5k 2023.”

Monrae Zebo

“My name is Monrae Zebo. I am nine years old and will be going into the third grade this year. I love to run, snowboard, and play soccer. Since 2022 I have run eight 5ks with my best friend Sailor. My favorite 5k so far were the Bridge Day 5k and the Greenbrier 5k. Me and Sailor do almost everything together that is physically active. We play on sports teams like basketball, baseball, softball, and soccer. We ride bikes, climb, and roller-skate together too. We were just in the 2023 WV Living Magazine Summer Edition. We were featured as part of West Virginia’s Incredible Kids. 

Me and Sailor love to run 5ks so much together that we want to continue to run them together forever. Our goal is to run ten 5ks in one year. Last year we were only able to make it to six but that’s alright. We will keep running. My mom, Sailor, and Sailor’s mom Savannah motivate me to be physically active. We like to go on hikes and play sports together. We ran the Bridge Day 5k last year in 2022. 

I want to run this years Bridge Day 5k because it is fun and they have really good food. Running can be challenging because it can be tiring and it also feels good to take breaks. Physical activity is important because it is good for your mind and body. Doing physical activity in the community helps you to have fun and make new friends.”

Sailor Hall

“I am so excited to run in this year’s Bridge Day 5K. I get to run this race with my best friend, Monrae. We are running buddies. Every time we run a 5K it is always so much fun. We have run seven 5k’s together. During the race, we tell stories and laugh. Running together makes us stronger. Even when it’s cold and we want to quit, we cheer each other on and keep going. We never give up on one another. A built-in cheerleader running and sweating beside you makes it much easier. She is what motivates me to keep running.

I have been running since I was four years old. Running is just one of my favorite sports. I also like basketball, softball, soccer, and volleyball. Running helps me improve in all these sports. It is so important for me to keep physically active as an athlete. Running improves my bone and muscle health, as well as my mental health. Staying physically active improves my overall life. Though, it’s not always easy. I sometimes would rather not practice my sports or train for a run. But nothing feels better than accomplishing my goals.

I can’t wait to see all the people at Bridge Day and watch the base jumpers jump from the Bridge as I run by. Last year I came in first place at The Bridge Day 5K. It is my favorite race. You will see me and Monrae at the finish line.”

We caught up with Sailor after the race and asked her how her experience was, and if there was s moment that stood out to her. Here’s what she had to say:

My overall experience at the Bridge Day 5K was fantastic. It was fun and exciting. Even though it was cold, I enjoyed running with my best friend. A standout moment for me at the race was the watching the base jumpers and the extreme bikers on the ramp. They both were so awesome to watch as I ran by. I can’t wait for next year.
Sailor Hall, age 8

Lucas Raney

“I’m an extremely active person. I participate in sports year round and run track as well as play basketball. What motivates me to be physically active is the competitive aspect of sport as well as feeling good and being fit. I want to participate in the Bridge Day 5k because I like to run and would really enjoy the scenery and race. I would love to be a part of the 5k this year and celebrate the day with our community!”

Upcoming Active SWV events

In addition to our free Community Captain led activities, Active SWV hosts signature race event fundraisers throughout the year, like the Bridge Day 5k RUN. 

These race events are geared towards beginner and advanced racers alike, and are guaranteed to be a great time for all!

Check out our Signature Events page on our website to see information on all upcoming race events.