A little dirt never hurt

By Anna Yee

June 30, 2012 Updated Jul 2, 2012 at 9:50 AM CDT

MORTON, Ill. -- Under the Morton water tower, you'll find some good -- but not so clean -- fun.

Saturday marked the first annual Kids Dirty Dash for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

More than 500 local children got their feet wet on a mud run.

"They're becoming kind of popular, and we thought why not do one as a fundraiser and get the kids involved, because it's a lot more fun for them when they can get a little dirty," said Michelle Parker, event director.

The roughly mile-long course wound through the woods and back out on the obstacle field.

Kids put their strength to the test, running, jumping, and climbing, with nothing but sweat on their brows until the end.

The final obstacle? A foot-deep mud pit where there's no time for thinking, only crawling.

"I saw the rest of the kids get in it, and they got stuck when they got in,' said Payton Staser. "It wasn't hard going under it, because I never got stuck, but at the end, I got stuck a bunch, and I slipped."

But 10-year-old Staser made it all the way through the muddy madness, a goal the Mackinaw Xplicit strength and conditioning team came to conquer.

"It's not really where you finish, but how hard you go," said Blaine Gilbert, a trainer at Xplicit. "It's about having fun, but giving effort."

Nine-year-old Trenton Mitchell tapped into his year of training to finish the race.

"Basically, to just never give up," said Mitchell.

Even parents could take pride in all the dirty work.

"Dirt's dirt. Kids are kids. One and two. They come together," said Matt Staser, Payton's father. "We were proud."

Organizers say the event exceeded expectations, raising more than $26,000 for St. Jude.

The kid participants alone fundraised almost of half of that, proving a little grime can't hurt when it goes towards a good cause.

For more information on the event, head to www.kidsdirtydashforstjude.com or click on the link above.

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