New team in town focuses on fun, improving health: Jon Francis Foundation, Lakeview Health join forces for family-focused event

Jon Francis

There’s a new team in Stillwater focused on improving the health of area families a few miles at a time.

Lakeview Health has joined with the Jon Francis Foundation to help sponsor the foundation’s annual Jon Francis Run next month north of Stillwater. David Francis said with Lakeview Health’s help, the run will include a fun run and small fair for children.

“I was approached a couple of months ago by Lakeview Health,” Francis said about the partnership. “I said, ‘Absolutely, we’ll do it.’ ”

This year’s Jon Francis Run is a half-marathon and 8K race around Square Lake set for Sept. 22. The race raises funds for the foundation that helps parents of missing adult children in the memory of Jon Francis, who went missing during a hike in the Idaho Mountains.

David Francis said the half-marathon and 8K races start a 9 a.m., adding that the start time is his personal preference over traditional earlier morning start times.

He said a 1K fun run for elementary school-age youths joins the race line-up this year.

“The race manager is scoping out a course,” he added. Course safety will be handled by JFF volunteers and course marshals.

The fun fair includes age appropriate games and prizes for children and families, David Francis said.

Francis said the foundation already has some volunteers to help with the fair, but more help is welcome.

“We’re getting volunteer church youth groups to put on the fun fair at Square Lake Park,” he said. “We’re making some preliminary decisions. The fun fair will go on until the last racers finish or around three or four hours.”

Francis said he is modeling the Square Lake races and fair after another popular Twin Cities event.

“I’m modeling it after Grand Old Days,” he said.

In an email, David Francis said the added events “are in keeping with Jon’s life and ministry.”

“Jon was a youth leader and a mentor who was passionate about children’s physical health and character development,” David Francis writes. “Whenever Jon was involved in an activity, it was fun.”

Francis also notes that runners will see a lower entry fee for the two races this year.

“It is very reasonable,” he said. “I think it’s $45 for the half-marathon and $30 for the 8K. We’re trying to be easy on the runner’s budget.”

Francis added that registering for the races is simple.

“Just Google ‘Jon Francis half-marathon’ and there are lots of links,” he said, adding runners still have time to enter.

“We still need runners and volunteers. They’re needed and appreciated,” he said.