The starting line during the Patriot 5K on July 4.

Courtesy | Aadi Joshi

Olentangy Liberty High School cross country runners and students Hani Deen, Aadi Joshi, James Brickner, and Sam Perez organized the Patriot 5K that took place July 4. The Patriot 5K is a family-friendly event that involves a competitive walk/run. The students organized the event as a 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) race or walk aimed to bring together participants of all ages and fitness levels to enjoy physical activity and celebrate a sense of community and patriotism. The first Patriot 5K started in 2019, when a couple of Olentangy Liberty High School cross country seniors came together in hopes of creating an event that gave back to the community, supported the Liberty cross country team, and provided locals a chance to have some fun. After a successful first Patriot 5K, the race became a yearly tradition for the Olentangy Liberty High School cross country team.

Starting in May, the four students spent five hours weekly organizing the race by securing Liberty Park as the race location, advertising, and acquiring sponsorships. The students mainly curated sponsors by emailing and calling various companies to cover the costs of booking Liberty Park as a location and working with Race Penguin. Additional funding came from local individual and business donations, online contributions via the race registration website, and entry costs from racers.

Deen said, “We all worked as a great team to bring the 2023 Patriot 5K to life. Aadi played a key role in communicating with Liberty Township officials to secure Liberty Park for race day. In addition, Aadi helped make sure race day went smoothly by working with Race Penguin to facilitate signups, race timing, and Patriot 5K T-shirts. James Brickner worked to help advertise the Patriot 5K to the community. James was in charge of social media accounts and creating race flyers. Sam Perez and Hani Deen worked to acquire sponsors for the 2023 event. They visited and stayed in close contact with several local businesses to raise money to cover race costs and fund raise for the OLHS men’s XC team.”

The first milestone of organizing the Patriot 5K was securing sponsors and trustees. Through hours of networking, the team secured 11 sponsors to move forward with the 5K. With the help of Race Penguin (the main sponsor), they were able to design and create everything needed for the 5K, such as T-shirts, racing bibs, and the course design.

“The first major milestone was securing those sponsors,” Deen said. “Working with Race Penguin and Liberty Park can be very expensive, so unless we have sponsors to ensure the costs, everything is up in the air. By having enough sponsors, we could move forward with the 5K.”

Another milestone in planning the 5K was securing Liberty Park as the location. Booking the park provided slight issues as other organizations already scheduled to use the area on July 4. Fortunately, with enough communication with Liberty Park officials, the team was able to book the park.

The last major milestone was event promotion through social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, and handing out flyers around Powell. Through these event promotion strategies, the race popularity increased from last year’s 110 racers to 140.

Overall, the success of the Patriot 5K reflects the dedication, hard work, and collaboration of organizers, students, sponsors, and volunteers involved in making the event a memorable and meaningful experience for all participants.

This article was written by Nivi Kadiam, Nandini Uppala, William Wang, Lucas Colegrove, and Varsha Banumukkala, Olentangy Liberty High School students and members of Powell Youth Council, which is a 15-student-governed nonprofit organization recognized and partnered with the Powell government that Wang created in March of 2022. Powell Youth Council’s purpose is to give a voice and power to the youth of Powell in local decisions and projects, show how local leaders create projects and decisions, and motivate the youth to help their community.