Lighting the way one runner at a time

Abigail De La Torre, left, and Abby Campos join hundreds at the starting line of the 5K race during the Be The Light event held at West Creek Park in Valencia on Saturday, September 29, 2018. (Photo by Dan Watson)
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With their glow sticks in hand, runners lined up for the fifth annual Be the Light 5K/10K run from West Creek Park in Valencia on Saturday.

Through a conglomerate of support, Be the Light functions to bring awareness and raise funds for young people suffering from substance abuse. Ten percent of the proceeds are donated to A Light of Hope, a nonprofit organization that offers support services and activities for young people and their families, according to their website. They partnered with New Global Adventures, which facilitated the event and organized registration for runners.

“We’ve had what seems like an epidemic of substance abuse among teens and young adults in this valley,” said Mark Montoya, one of the board members of A Light of Hope. “We’ve seen deaths, we’ve seen overdoses and addiction. This organization is trying to do something about that.”

The 10K run began at 6 p.m., followed by the 5K run at 7 p.m. Both runs went along the paseos of the San Francisquito Creek Trail and featured awards for the top-three runners of both sexes, as well as giving each runner a chance to see their results in real time, Montoya said.

Hundreds of participants take off from the starting line of the 5K race during the Be The Light event held at West Creek Park in Valencia on Saturday, September 29, 2018. (Photo by Dan Watson)

Janice Mattison was one of the 900 people taking part in the run. She’s one of 75 other runners representing specialty shoe store Runners Lane. When they run, Runners Lane runs as a family, Mattison said.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s just fun. I mean, how many times can you go running at night wearing glow sticks without people thinking you’re crazy?”

Through an upbeat atmosphere, not only does the run offer a way to help people suffering from addiction but it also helps destigmatize the issue in order for people to intervene as help, Montoya said.

“The more it remains stigmatized, the more people are pushed into the darkness, and our motto is, ‘Where there is light, there is hope,’” he said. “We’re bringing that metaphorically here, with the light on the event, but also literally in the sense that there’s people that are inspired by what’s going on. They’re going to get connected to A Light of Hope and, we hope, find hope and healing throughout.”

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