Youth Run NOLA participants race to the finish line during the 2018 Freret 5K. Photo by: Jeanne Higgins
On Freret Street there is music playing in the distance and groups of people all headed the same direction. Their chatter and laughter are infectious and it’s hard to tell who knows each other and who has just met. Some people are dressed in traditional running gear and appear intent and serious, while others are sporting vibrant tutus and face paint, joking and laughing boisterously.
Everyone is headed to the Junior League of New Orleans’ (JLNO) Freret 5K. It’s an event that brings together family, friends and neighbors to raise money in support of JLNO community projects; and it also brings attention and energy to the Freret corridor. The event begins with a half-mile Fun Run at JLNO’s Bloomin’ Deals Thrift Shop, which has been located at the corner of Valence and Freret for 58 years. During the Fun Run parents and children race together, some children run ahead and others walk, talk and laugh.
The Fun Run is followed by the 5K race which traces a route from Freret Street to Audubon Boulevard and then back to Bloomin’ Deals. The excitement is tangible as the race starts, with children cheering, jumping up and down and giving high fives as participants run, walk and even stroll past them. At the same time, mentors from Youth Run NOLA, a local youth running group, keep pace with their students, offering support and encouragement throughout the race.
After the race everyone gathers as JLNO President Kristen Koppel awards prizes to the participants, then its time to enjoy the many food, beverage and activity booths available. The instant camaraderie, the unique spirit of New Orleans on display during the race, is the reason JLNO volunteers work so hard to create this amazing event each year. It would also not be possible without the help of local sponsors such as Faux Pas Prints; Krewe Du Crossfit; Ochsner Baptist; Lowe, Stein, Hoffman, Allweiss & Hauver LLP and many others.
Money raised from the Freret 5K is used to support many programs throughout the community that help to advance the wellbeing of women. Some of these programs include: JLNO's Diaper Bank, which has a goal of providing over 500,000 diapers to those in need by June 2018; Financial Literacy for Women, which helps empower women to achieve and maintain financial freedom through education; and the Scholarship fund which helps to alleviate the educational financial burden for non-traditional female students.
If you would like more information on these programs or any other Junior League of New Orleans programs please visit JLNO.org.