When local couple Bryan and Debbie Ray started the Kaufman branch of Camp Gladiator last August, their goal was to spread their enthusiasm of physical fitness to their Kaufman neighbors. But as they prepare to host the Miles for Meals 5K on the morning of the Scarecrow Festival, they’re embarking on an even more important mission.
Kaufman’s Camp Gladiator has been a success right from the start. According to Bryan, it’s one of the fastest-growing boot camps in the United States which he and Debbie attribute to the camp’s rotating itinerary focusing on different aspects of fitness each week and its family atmosphere buoyed by the number of couples and families that have become regular members. Others have noticed the camp’s success, too; as the date of the Scarecrow Festival drew nearer, the Kaufman Chamber of Commerce approached Camp Gladiator to host a 5K before the festival, a tradition that had been broken over the last few years due to construction on the square. Hosting a 5K presents its own challenges, but Bryan and Debbie also wanted to use it as a chance to raise funds for a local nonprofit. They eventually landed on Richard Dunn and The Center due to its Thanksgiving program centered around feeding families on Thanksgiving Day.
“Bryan and I talked and we chose the center because of the timing of the race,” Debbie said. “When I talked to Richard we talked about how many families they feed on Thanksgiving. The Center is one of the really good nonprofit agencies here in town. We wanted to be able to gear it toward that.”
Not only will a portion of the funds raised from the 5K go toward The Center, participants will also have the opportunity to donate food items on the day of the race including boxed stuffing, canned pumpkin, green beans, canned yams, corn bread mix and chicken broth, all of which The Center has highlighted as key food items they still need. Dunn is thrilled about the partnership with Camp Gladiator and is looking forward to feeding as many families as possible next month utilizing funds and donations Miles for Meals raises.
“Every year at Thanksgiving, The Center provides meals for our neighbors in Kaufman County,” Dunn said. “Partnering with Camp Gladiator, Miles for Meals has been a blessing. The 5K will help us as we work to put together 400 meals for families in our community. I want to thank Bryan and Debbie Ray and Camp Gladiator for sponsoring The Center to give these families a great Thanksgiving.”
While the missionary aspect of Miles for Meals, which will begin a 7 a.m. this Saturday, Oct. 26, is a new step for Bryan and Debbie, they’re excited to take the next step toward giving back to the community that has welcomed them over the last year.
“When we started Camp Gladiator, our mission was to impact as many lives as we could,” Bryan said. “We wanted to help people in a physical way and an emotional way because when people are overweight or unhealthy, it not only impacts them physically, but it can impact the way that they look at themselves. But seeing the way that we can help people in other ways and be involved in the community is just icing on the cake. We didn’t realize at the time that we’d have these types of avenues to go down actually helping people when it comes to bringing families together for Thanksgiving and things like that. It’s kind of a huge bonus that we never really expected that we would get in to."