Some kids wouldn’t have the opportunity to participate in sports or leadership experiences if it weren’t for Aiken Public Safety’s Police Athletic League, and league coordinators are asking the community to help out by lacing up for Friday’s Blue Night Run.


The event will be held at Citizens Park, starting with a 1-mile fun run at 7 p.m., followed by a 5K run and walk at 7:30 p.m. In addition to the three activities, the Police Athletic League will provide family activities at the park.


The run began in 2012 as a fundraiser for the league, which was established in 2006, according to director LaLita Ashley. The league relied mainly on grant funding, which eventually ran out.


“It helps support our mission, which is to provide for children who normally don’t have the opportunity to participate in sports and other activities,” Ashley said. She added the league’s offerings include sporting and leadership activities and field trips.


Each year, the league serves more than 200 Aiken children ages 6 through 12, Ashley said.


Two of those children, who recently placed at the AAU Junior Olympic Games, will be recognized at Friday’s event.


Other children have gone on to compete in sports on other levels, get in to college or enlist in the military.


“It’s important because we want to continue to do this,” Ashley said. “We see the positive results and impact it has had on our kids.”


Participants may register before the event at 5:30 p.m. Friday; however, all runners, walkers and children are encouraged to preregister, which will guarantee the receipt of a Blue Night T-shirt.


Fees for the races are $25 for pre-registration and $30 on race day. The fun run is $10 for pre-registration and $15 on race day, plus another $5 if a shirt is requested.


Registration forms may be requested by emailing lashley@cityofaikensc.gov or by calling 803-642-7686. Applications may also be picked up at Aiken Public Safety headquarters, 251 Laurens St., N.W.


For more information, visit the Police Athletic League’s page on Facebook.


Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.