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EAST BRADFORD — The day may have been humid with the hint of rain in the air, but it didn’t stop the hundreds of people who came out for the fourth annual Trail Blazer Run June 18.
“It is a rain or shine event,” said Andy Schaum, president of Paradise Farm Camps.
The event, which featured a five-mile run or a mile and a half walk, was held at Paradise Farm Camps in Downingtown.
“The first year we started it to raise funding for the newest section of the paved trail we did down on 322,” said Mandie Cantlin, East Bradford’s assistant township manager.
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Since that trail has been completed, the Trail Blazer Run has continued to raise funds for future projects in the township.
“This raises money for the township’s trail program,” Cantlin said. “Now, we use the funds for any number of projects we’re working on. It goes a variety of places.”
The first year’s turnout had about 200 people, but the event has continued to draw more people out with each year.
The 2015 event brought out 323 people from around the area.
Unlike most races, the Trail Blazer has a five-mile run instead of a 5K.
Also unique to the event is that the run isn’t just on a street or a paved trail.
“The only part that is paved is (the beginning and end),” Schaum said. “Most of it is in the woods. You have mud, mulch and tree roots. Some of it is more formally groomed, but there are sections that will challenge people — there will be puddles people have to jump over.”
Paradise Farm Camps has hosted the event since the beginning, but has only recently held it on location.
“The first year, the course was not on our property,” Schaum said. “The second year we realized it would be just easier to host it and have the race right on our property.”
Paradise Farm Camps, operated by the Children’s Country Week Association, is 600 acres of scenic natural resources.
The grounds are used to open the eyes of the youth to the wonders of the outdoors.
“We’re principally a youth-development organization,” Schaum said. “Under that umbrella, we have three core programs.”
Those programs include environmentally education, team building and camping.
“We’ve been connecting kids to the outdoors all the way back to 1875 through camping programs,” Schaum said.
Paradise Farm Camp is happy to provide a perfect space for the event.
“We have a great relationship with East Bradford,” Schaum said. “We look at our role as being a community institution. To me, that means we need to partner with local government and the county.”
Paradise Farm Camps is a perfect scenic spot to host something such as the Trail Blazer Run, along with its camps.
“We’re fortunate to live in Chester County,” Schaum said. “It’s an incredible area to live. Our job is to raise the next generation of responsible citizens. That’s what we’re doing through our programs.”