“I’m set on doing this.” 11 year-old Shelby Dunphy-Day sits across the table dressed in her soccer gear and spills out her plan for the Six Leg Fun Run and 5K. Shelby has spearheaded an effort to plan, organize, and execute two races that will take place in downtown Texarkana at the end of January. While the idea was born during a brainstorm session for a leadership project, Shelby has breathed life into it with a determined heart. This well-spoken and charismatic young lady is blazing a trail of her own to help raise money for the local animal shelter.
Shelby attends College Hill Middle School- Academy of Design, at which she takes part in the Environmental and Spatial Technology (E.A.S.T.) class that plans and presents projects. Such projects are presented at leadership conferences that require students to design, plan, and complete a project intended to benefit the community. Shelby knew she wanted to come up with a way to help the animal shelter. She credits her own rescue animals, Fable and Tiger, for inspiring her to help animals in need. Fable is her four year-old cat that “acts like a dog,” and Tiger is her “fat cat.” Shelby spent the majority of her summer preparing to get her project underway.
She didn’t slow down when school started again this fall, however. Shelby is the president of her student council, she plays soccer and tennis, and she volunteers her time to take part in the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department’s outreach program, P.R.I.D.E. (Personal Responsibility In Daily Efforts). P.R.I.D.E. is a program sponsored by T.A.P.D. that helps build positive relationships with the community and encourages students in the Arkansas school district to make good choices. Additionally, the program teaches students how to be effective leaders within their community. Shelby’s participation and leadership in this program proved to be an invaluable asset for getting her idea for the race off the ground.
Shelby “did all the talking” to multiple leaders within the Texarkana community, including Texarkana, Arkansas’ city manager, Dr. Kenneth Haskin; Animal Care and Adoption Center Director, Charles Lokey; both of Texas and Arkansas’ Chiefs of Police for Texarkana, Daniel Shiner and Robert Harrison, respectively; Miller County Sheriff Ron Stovall; T.A.P.D. Information officer and P.R.I.D.E. Coordinator, Cpl. Kristi Bennett; P.R.I.D.E. Officers, Cpl. Les Munn and Officer Rick Cockrell; Ross Cowling, Parks and Recreation Superintendent; HandsOn Texarkana, a 501 (3)c Non-profit; J.R. Arnold, Principal of College Hill Middle School Academy of Design; and many more community leaders and board members. Shelby created an aerial map of the two race routes to submit for approval. After some discussion, both Arkansas and Texas approved the route for the Fun Run and the 5K. When it was time to propose the even to the city council, police officers from the P.R.I.D.E program, as well as influential city leaders showed up to hear Shelby speak out for this event.
Shelby’s mom, Kacy Dunphy, “recorded the whole thing” and was, I’m certain, beaming with pride and her young daughter stood up for society’s most helpless creatures. When I asked Kacy what it was like to be Shelby’s mother, she smiled and said, “busy.” I could tell that she uttered that single word with all the pride a mother could hold. While many mothers are proud of their children and see success in their futures, it is quite clear to Kacy that her child is destined for greatness. To be responsible for such an influential event is a great burden for any person, much less for a young lady who is only 11. Shelby wanted to come up with a way to create an event that “benefits the Animal Care & Adoption Center, promotes Downtown Texarkana, and encourages volunteerism.” Shelby’s grandparents, Patrick and Kathleen Dunphy, “play such important roles in her life,” her mother said. They have supported her both in spirit and in action. Often times, they would take Shelby to and from meetings while her mom was working. It is quite obvious that Shelby has a strong, supportive family and community that help her to fulfill her dream to help animals. "Really, there is only one reason why I am putting this race on. It is not to get a better grade in school, not because someone is making me do it. It is only because I want to help Charles Lokey get the animals in the shelter adopted."
The Six Leg Fun Run and 5K is an event that will host two races, a pet contest, and promote animal adoption. Shelby is looking to have vendors and a Pet Photographer there as well. Participants can run a 5K with their best fur-friends, or, if both dog and owner prefer a shorter race, they can elect to enter the one mile Fun Run. “You know, that’s why there are six legs; two human legs and four animal legs.” The inaugural race will take place on January 31, 2016. Planning the race for 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon offers less traffic interference in order to increase the safety of our four-legged friends that may be downtown to race, compete in the contest, get micro-chipped, or simply to spectate. There will be “two-legged and four-legged” awards for both races, as well as awards granted in the pet contest.
Registration and fees for the 5K and Fun Run are as follows: 5K early registration is $25, regular registration is $30, and “week of” registration is $35; Fun Run registration is $10, regular registration is $15, and “week of” registration is $20. Because Shelby and those who support her want to promote physical wellness as much as they want to promote community involvement, children ages 12-18 years can be sponsored to run the 5K for only $5. Their hope is that this will increase awareness of community needs in students. Schools can sponsor their students as well. All proceeds are donated to the Animal Care & Adoption Center of Texarkana. HandsOn Texarkana has allowed Six Leg Fun Run & 5k to operate under their 501 (c) 3 non-profit umbrella, making all donations tax deductible.
We can all learn a lesson from Shelby Dunphy-Day. No one is ever too little, too young, or too busy to help, even if it is just a little bit. She has organized an event that will not only help orphaned animals but will create interest and awareness of Downtown Texarkana. Surely there is something we can do to run alongside Shelby and her furry friends at the animal shelter to help out. The event is still looking for vendors, sponsors, and donors.
The idea is for this event to be community wide so find a way to help out today. If you cannot support the event monetarily, you can volunteer your time to help set up and host the race, or you can give your time like Shelby does and visit the animal shelter. Volunteer help is always welcome. Even if you simply play with the animals or teach one a new trick, you are making a difference. There is always a way to get your tail moving to make a difference. For more information on the race you can like the Facebook page, Six Leg Fun Run or visit the official website at www.sixlegfunrun.com.
Please check out the original story published in the November issue of ALT magazine at this link: ALT Magazine : Get Your Tail Moving