Written by Brittany Mann
Sozo Trading Co. opened their grounds for the Avondale 5K promptly at 9 am on April 23, 2016. Registration began with a flurry of runners signing in, signing up, grabbing race t-shirts and a cup of Seeds coffee as they prepared for victory…or at least a load of fun! The crowd soon filled the parking lot and there was a buzz of anticipation and excitement in the air.
This was not Sozo’s first 5K event, but it was the first race to be hosted in the Avondale community amongst new neighbors who have embraced Sozo’s new storefront over the past year. The race route began in the Sozo parking lot, weaved for 3.2 miles throughout the neighborhood and concluded back in the parking lot with food trucks and vendors to celebrate a job well done!
Before the race began, one of the event sponsors Irontribe Fitness, led a WOD style warm up for the runners. Once muscles were warm and ready, the runners took their place at the start line and off to the races they went. A short time later the fun runners followed at a much more leisurely pace.
Volunteers lined the streets to cheer on the runners, provide water, and push them onward. The sun was in full force as racers made their way down the road, which made the slight incline in the second mile a fun challenge. Thankfully the third mile was ALL downhill and allowed runners to gain momentum, feel the breeze, rest their lungs and push to the finish line.
Many participants were running for more than just themselves, but also for one of the many Sozo kids from Uganda. Pinned to each race bib was a picture and name that provided plenty of motivation to fight through the sweat and burn. Three-plus miles allowed time for reflection upon God’s work through Sozo in the lives of these kids and the impact they are already making in their community and stateside. Each kid comes with a past, often a story of hurt, but also one of redemption. Their joy is obvious even through their pictures and especially on the faces of the seventeen Sozo Choir members who there in person to cheer the racers on.
Post race it was all food, fellowship, snack, and shopping galore. Runners and spectators perused the Trading Company and vendors such as Steelcity Pops, Water and Willow, Eugene’s Hot Chicken, Better Kombucha, We Have Donuts and more. The Sozo Choir took the stage for a big farewell performance and wowed everyone, inspiring some killer dance moves and celebration. What an amazing experience to hear kids the world defines as orphans sing, “There are no orphans of God,” their praise ringing throughout the Avondale community.
The entire event was a beautiful reflection of God’s love and saving grace. Sozo is incredibly thankful for all those who participated through sponsorship, partnership, participation and support. We can’t wait until next year!