Eleven-year-old Jake Schultz, the organizer of the upcoming Cupcake 5K, attaches a flyer to the windshield of a car promoting the March 23 event.
ST. PETE BEACH – What began as an 11-year-old’s class project could end up becoming a tradition in Pass-A-Grille.
The new Cupcake 5K distance run is about to make its debut on March 23 and if work and desire are any criteria, then the race will likely be around for a long time.
The idea came from fifth-grader, Jake Schultz who is in the gifted program at Bay Vista Fundamental School in St. Petersburg.
“I had to have a community service project for school,” he said. “My mom is a runner and that inspired me to do a race.”
Holding a 5K race is a little more complicated than just having a dream. Jake’s mom, Michelle, remembers when he came to her to ask about having the race.
“My first instinct was no, it is too big of a thing,” she said. “But I didn’t want to say no. So I asked him to think about it for two weeks. I explained it was a lot of work and he’d have to talk to a lot of people, which he is not comfortable doing. It wasn’t something that mom could step in and take over. He thought about it and he said yes he wanted to do it.”
Jake said he learned quickly how much work was involved.
“The hardest thing was finding sponsors,” he said. “I had to go door to door and ask for help. My friend’s parents own a business so we went there first. Then we got the Cupcake Company (of Sarasota) and that is where the name of the race came from.”
The next thing was finding a place to hold the race. They decided Pass-A-Grille was a good place, on the beach.
“We had to get permission and a permit from the city for that,” he said.
Selecting a charity was another hurdle.
“We were just brain-storming and we originally thought we’d get involved with someone fighting obesity,” he said. “But then our main sponsor was the Cupcake Company so we changed and are now tied in with Rise Up St. Petersburg.”
Rise Up St. Petersburg is an organization that seeks to bring together residents of the south side of St. Petersburg and those of mid-Pinellas to work together. Walter Draughon, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in St. Petersburg heads up the Rise Up organization.
“We bring the residents together into what we call action teams,” he said. “Then we engage in various challenges such as mentoring students, or tutoring or getting involved in community clean-ups or community gardening. We’re making headway building those action teams.”
Draughon says he has nothing but admiration for Jake Schultz for what he is trying to achieve.
“It is wonderful to see an 11-year-old guy who is very concerned about race relations in his community,” said Draughon. “You can’t beat that can you?”
He said he appreciates what Schultz is trying to do.
“I felt overjoyed with a lot of admiration for the guy, the little guy,” he said. “It is something else for an 11-year-old to come up with this. He seems to be making all the arrangements out there. We’re looking forward to it.”
The race starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 23.
Jake remains calm about the race preparations but that’s not necessarily the case when you talk to his mother.
“We’re OK with it so far,” Michelle said. “I think it is going to be nerve-wracking the day of the race and we might say never again, but right now we’re saying so far so good.”
Jake’s mom, even though she told him she wouldn’t step in and take over, admits she has had to do some work on the project.
“When it comes to setting up the finances and making sure everything is correct with the permits and safety, I make sure,” she said. “We all want it to run well and safe, so he gets to watch and learn that part.”
Jake says he will organize the race again next year if this one goes well. His mother has no doubt it will.
“I talked to his teacher and she told me if anybody can do it, Jake can do it,” she said.