Kyle Stainbrook of the Boys and Girls Club accepting a check from Cathy Mosset of Challenge Dakota. 

Challenge Dakota announced today that the Fifth Annual Stars, Stripes & Steps stair-climbing race raised a grand total of $5,275.00 for the Hot Springs Boys & Girls Club. Challenge presented two checks today to Kyle Stainbrook, Hot Springs Unit Director.

The first check, for $4,275.00, represented money raised from race registrations, sponsorships and partial proceeds from food and beverages. The second check is from Modern Woodmen Fraternal Financial for $1,000.00, a matching grant dedicated to playground equipment and improvements at the club. Modern Woodman’s Andy Bartling told Race Director Dusty Pence about the grant opportunity just in time to submit the request for this year. Pence said she knew they would meet the $1,000 needed for the match, so it was a wonderful gift that they could count on.

Pence said that the number would also have been much smaller if not for a surprise gift on race day.

“We were cleaning up the American Legion Hall, where we moved the after-party due to weather. The band was almost done tearing down their equipment and it was quiet for the first time all day. Jarret Weimer of the Crazy Woman Creek Band came up and told me that the band had talked it over and decided to donate their services this year! That was a huge last-minute gift and we are very grateful.”

Stars, Stripes & Steps brought visitors to town from four states this year. Although 97% of participants are from South Dakota, 30% come from outside Fall River County. That means that people are coming to town who might otherwise never have discovered Hot Springs.

“That number will grow over time,” Pence said. “We haven’t had time to promote much outside the region, but we will do more of that in the coming years and word of mouth will help too.”

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The race is unique, not just because it incorporates up to 744 steps in each of the three routes, but also because, according to Kyle Stainbrook, Unit Director for the Hot Springs Boys & Girls Club, the club kids help produce the event.

“The kids designed the logo, back when the race changed its name to Stars, Stripes & Steps,” Stainbrook explained. “They decorate all the finisher medallions, so each one is unique—that’s one for every single racer—there were 102 registered this year and we have to make extra—so it is a big project. They also decorate a SWAG bag for every racer and design the first-place awards, so they are very involved. Of course, these are fun craft activities for the kids too, and they learn an important lesson, that they should give back to the people who give to them.”

Pence said the racers often comment that they love the handmade medals.

“Sure, we could buy mass produced medals like every other race, but ours is a casual, fun race, so the handmade medals fit the bill. Some of the kids go to a lot of effort, often making sure that their designs are patriotic. They know that even though the race is fun, the purpose of the event is serious, to honor America’s fallen heroes by having the courage to get strong.” 

Stars, Stripes & Steps is under the auspices of Challenge Dakota, a non-profit organization that supports area active events and repairs and restores Hot Springs’ historic staircases. Contact Dusty Pence, info@ChallengeDakota or 605/890-1515 for more information.

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