About Pacific Runderland 5k & kids Run
Our charity partner: washington’s national park fund
Washington’s National Park Fund (WNPF) is the official philanthropic partner of our cherished Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic National Parks. The funds raised by Washington’s National Park Fund help fund 50 to 75 projects annually in these parks. The organization works closely with the superintendents of each of the three national parks who select the priority projects for their respective parks. The projects fall into four core areas: advancing science and research, improving visitors’ experiences, expanding volunteerism and stewardship, and providing for youth and family programs. It is the only philanthropic organization dedicated solely to these three national parks and 100% of the donations stay in Washington State for this purpose.
Founded by former governor and senator Dan Evans and legendary mountaineer Lou Whittaker, Washington’s National Park Fund has awarded more than $5.5 million in the last seven years to support these national parks. The non-partisan organization is led by CEO Laurie Ward, who works with a team of four dedicated staff members and more than 20 passionate and engaged board members.
To learn more about Washington’s National Park Fund, please visit their website at https://wnpf.org/.
Photo credit to John Donofrio, courtesy of Washington’s National Park Fund.
why this charity is our run’s “why”
Growing up, Race Director, Sherry Clarke, along with her parents, Wayne and Julie, sister, Sheila, and brother, Steve, spent many summers camping at Cougar Rock Campground (or “Koo-Koo Rock” as the kids would call it) in Mount Rainier National Park, eating ice cream cones at Paradise, hiking the trails, and throwing rocks in the river. They also spent many winters cross-country skiing and sledding in those same areas.
Avid outdoors people, Wayne and Julie had been exploring the Pacific Northwest for many years before their kids started joining them for the adventures. They loved hiking and camping at Mount Rainier, the Olympics, and throughout various other areas in the Cascade Mountains. Wayne summited Mount Rainier twice and Mount Adams once (with Julie) and was a member of The Mountaineers.
Like many outdoor enthusiasts of the Pacific Northwest, not only did the family love hiking and camping, they also loved running. Wayne was a natural and very accomplished athlete, finishing 9 marathons, the Seattle to Portland bike ride twice, and the Pole, Pedal, Paddle Pentathlon as an ironman. His marathon personal best was from the 1982 Vancouver International Marathon, where he finished with a time of 3:00:59. He was a member of the Olympia Rain Runners running club and also held the position of Race Director for a short time. Wayne ran competitively, he ran for fun, he ran in silly costumes, he ran with his wife and his kids. Whether it was 26 miles or 2 miles, he just loved running and loved being a part of a great community of runners.
Julie began running around the time she met Wayne. She would join him at races to cheer him on and quickly decided she didn’t want to be on the sidelines. She has been running since the early 1980s and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. Even after surviving a severe stroke in 2011, to this day at the age of 67, still competes in 5k and 10k races with Sherry and Sheila.
Sheila, Sherry and Steve also ran for many years after being introduced to the sport by their parents as young children, and Sherry and Sheila still hold a strong passion for it. Sherry has completed 8 half marathons and is training for her first full marathon next Spring. Sheila has completed 1 half marathon and frequently runs in 5k races in the Olympia area.
When Wayne was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease in 2007, at the age of 56, the news devastated his family and friends. How could someone so young, so active, so healthy, be diagnosed with this horrible disease? He continued running in the early stages of the disease, but sadly, the day came when he got lost on one his runs, even though it was the same route he’d run for years. Thankfully, a good Samaritan brought him home and Julie bought a treadmill so that he could still run in the safety of his home. As is the awful reality of early-onset Alzheimer’s, it hits hard and fast, and we lost our dad, husband, brother and friend in February of 2012.
After camping at Cougar Rock Campground in Mount Rainier National Park during the summer of 2018 with her husband and 2 young children, Sherry realized, for the first time, why sharing this experience at Mount Rainier had been so special for her parents. Seeing the Park through her children’s eyes gave her a whole new level of appreciation and love for the area. Sherry and Sheila had talked about organizing a run someday, in honor of their dad, and that someday is finally becoming a reality. They decided that they wanted to combine their love of running with their love of the National Parks of Washington, two things that also meant a lot to their dad. Teaming up with Washington’s National Park Fund, they hope to preserve the beauty for future generations in hopes that maybe, one day, their children’s children will be visiting “Koo-Koo Rock” and making memories of their own.
This one’s for you, Dad. We love you and we miss you.