Come June 8, Hixson's Greenway Farm will be coated with a rainbow of colored cornstarch for the Color the Curve 5k and Fun Run. While Kaitlin McAfee, the 12 year-old founder of the race, is especially looking forward to being coated with color, her biggest goal this spring is to be able to run in the race.
Running sounds like a simple task for most pre-teens, but Kaitlyn is slowly - and steadily - recovering from a surgery she underwent last December that reformed her S-shaped spine into a straight line. She came out of the operation 2 inches taller with a 13-inch scar and facing the reality that running in June is a hefty goal to set.
In early 2012 during a routine physical for her school's track team she found out she has scoliosis, a lateral bending and twisting of the spine that can eventually cause deformities and harm internal organs. The diagnosis couldn't keep her down for long.
While Kaitlyn was finding new ways to hide a bulky back brace beneath her clothing, she also decided to take action by starting the first local chapter of Curvy Girls, a national support group for young girls with scoliosis. And though she couldn't be part of the track team during the 2012-2013 school year, she found another way to run by making plans for the inaugural Color the Curve event to benefit the National Scoliosis Foundation.
What: 5k and 1-mile fun run
When: June 8 at 9 a.m.
Where: Greenway Farm in Hixson
Who: Teams or individuals
"A color run is probably the most fun type of race," says Kaitlyn. "You don't have to run; you can walk too." Along the 5k route, a "color crew" will be stationed to bombard the runners with color. At the finish line, runners will be handed extra packets of color to celebrate with - in other words, the vibrant cornstarch will go flying.
"It's not a timed event," explains Kaitlyn's mom, Jennifer McAfee, who has helped Kaitlyn plan and implement her ideas into reality. "It's just about getting exercise and it's more of a celebration."
Since her surgery, Kaitlyn has continued to encourage other girls with scoliosis, even meeting with them before they undergo surgery so that they can see someone who has come out on the other side. Kaitlyn still has some work to do before she can run. When asked if she is excited to "color the curve" in June, however, her eyes light up as she says, "Definitely."