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Free Spirit Run part of teen's legacy

8/29/2012

By ABBY BELDEN

abelden@dailynews.net

The Free Spirit 5K/10K Run is more than just an event for running.

Rick and Mary Claiborn, Hays, said the event honors their daughter, Jordyn, and how she lived her life.

"She was very free in the way she approached her life," Rick said.

Jordyn and a classmate, Cody Younger, were killed in a car accident Sept. 11, 2009, in Ellis County. Both were 16.

The second annual Free Spirit 5K/10K Run will be Sept. 8, with registration beginning at 9:15 a.m. and the run at 10 a.m.

But running shoes are not required.

"We also have what we call a 'free spirit' division. It's in honor of Jordyn too, so if you just want to show up and get a T-shirt, you can," Rick said. "You don't have to run."

The free spirit division allows people to set their own distance if they choose to run after their contribution.

Claiborn said Hays Recreation Commission handles registrations and helps coordinate the race.

Last summer, 140 people participated.

"She had a very close-knit core of friends, but she was in every group: the popular group, the not-so-popular group, the athletes, just everywhere," Mary said. "Everyone considered her a part of their group."

Rick said sponsor money feeds into the Free Spirit Award scholarship, given each spring at the Hays High School Academic Awards night. HRC also donates remaining funds to the scholarship, after fees are paid.

"They've been really gracious to agree to do that," he said.

The scholarship is given to a senior girl who has been active in dance, either as a member of the HHS dance team or in a Hays studio, as well as the community.

Mary said Jordyn was active in dance, so that is one of the main criteria to receive the scholarship.

The entry fee before the Sept. 5 deadline is $18. It is $22 after the deadline passes.

Participants will meet at the batting cages at Dusty Glassman Ball Park, Fourth and Milner.

To register, call (785) 623-2650 or visit haysrec.org.

"The purpose of the run is to not commemorate loss," Rick said. "The purpose of the run is to celebrate the free spirit that she had, and that we all can have to a degree, if we let it."