All the participants of Darien's Let Me Run and Girls on the Run after-school programs are training for the 5K run portion of Hope in Motion, a charity event benefiting Stamford Hospital's Bennett Cancer Center.

The 5K and 10K runs will take place at 8 a.m. Sunday, June 1, in downtown Stamford's Columbus Park. Close to 100 runners from Hindley, Holmes, Royle, Pear Tree Point and Tokeneke schools will compete in the 5K or 3.1-mile race.

Supporting them on the course will be the Darien cheerleaders.

"We're thrilled that Darien's Let Me Run and Girls on the Run programs chose Hope in Motion to be their target race," Liz Herbert, a Darien resident and chairman of the Hope in Motion 5K and 10K runsm said. "It will not only give them a chance to experience a real race on closed roads, it will show them the power of people coming together to raise money and awareness for a good cause."

All donations raised for Hope in Motion support the Bennett Cancer Center. The money provides quality-of-life services, such as nutrition, yoga, transportation, and treatment navigation programs -- all free of charge to patients.

The Royle chapter of Girls on the Run made "thinking-of-you cards" for patients at the Bennett Cancer Center. The Girls on the Run curriculum includes a community service component.

While Girls on the Run is for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade girls, Let Me Run is for fourth- and fifth-grade boys. Both of the programs encourage their participants to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles and relationships through running.

The Girls on the Run program is now offered at Hindley, Holmes, Royle, Pear Tree Point and Tokeneke schools. The Let Me Run program is new to Darien. Shannon Silsby, co-chairman of the Royle PTO, brought it to Royle this spring.

"As a mother of a 13-year-old daughter and three boys, I found myriads of programs for my daughter that helped her craft her character, develop inner strength and build confidence, but I did not find many of these opportunities for my boys," Silsby said.

"Having been a runner for over 30 years, I knew first hand the power of running in strengthening self and building relationships. As the mother of very active boys for whom moving is living, I found that Let Me Run was the perfect combination of physical activity and challenging individual and group lessons on living life to the best of ones ability.

"Let Me Run is a program that is more about the boy than the run. That focus on the boy himself is an opportunity for us all to support the growth of courageous, healthy and active young men. Someone very wise once said, `It is easier to build a boy than mend a man.' Starting Let Me Run at Royle is helping us seize the opportunity to help boys build themselves today that will pay dividends in the young men they become in twenty years."

The boys in Royle's Let Me Run program meet twice a week. While each session has activities that improve the boys' emotional well-being and assist them to enhance their relationships with others, the boys enjoy the actual running the most. The times and lengths of the runs vary from session to session with the end goal of running the Hope in Motion 5K at the close of the program.

Silsby, along with Darien resident Maija Judelson, recently hosted a coffee to introduce parents from other elementary schools in Darien to the Let Me Run program. A representative from the Let Me Run program, which is based in Charlotte, N.C., attended the coffee and answered parents' questions about Let Me Run.

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