The Des Plaines Park District hosted the first free Hershey's Track & Field Games day at Maine West High School on Sunday, May 4 from 1:00-4:00pm. The HTF Games provide boys and girls, ages 9-14, with an opportunity to compete in an event that recognizes individual excellence in running the 50-meter, 100-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter, 1600-meter dashes, a 4x100-meter relay, plus field sports including the standing long jump and a softball throw. Participants enter a total of three events: either two track and one field event or two field and one track event. Athletes participate in age divisions (9-10; 11-12, and 13-14 years old.) Forty boys and girls participated. The first and second boys' and girls' winners in each age category advance to the State Meet on June 21 at Buffalo Grove High School. A complete list of the winners in all age groups and categories is available at DPParks.org under the Programs/Athletics menu.
Des Plaines Park Board Commissioner Jana Haas championed the event. "In 2011, I met the 1960 Olympic Gold Decathlon Athlete, Rafer Johnson, at a National Recreation and Park Association Congress in Atlanta, GA. After the 1960 Games, Johnson stepped away from competition and dedicated his time and energy to helping others, including being the spokesperson for the Hershey's Track & Field Games." Haas continued, "I was moved by his conviction to 'being the best he could be,' and I loved the philosophy of this competition, that it's kids doing more than they ever thought possible, having fun, meeting new friends, and gaining new experiences."
Founded in 1975, Hershey's Track & Field Games is the longest-running youth activity program of its kind in North America, engaging more than 4,000 communities every year. The goal of the games is to introduce children to physical fitness through basic events. The program also strives to encourage children to reach their potential, and develop a sense of accomplishment and good sportsmanship. The Hershey's Tack & Field Games is one of three free sports competition events offered at the Des Plaines Park District. "Along with the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run and the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick, the Hershey's Track and Field Games encourage physical fitness, foster teamwork, and improve self-esteem among our youth," said Josh Cantres, Athletic Supervisor. "When Commissioner Hass brought this idea to us, we knew wanted to make this happen in Des Plaines," Cantres said.
The summer Spectrum Program & Events Guide is available online and in all Park District Facilities. For more information about programs, classes, and events for all ages at the Des Plaines Park District, call 847-391-5700 and visit www.DPParks.org.