Racing for GRACES 5K wins supporters; raises more than $12,000 for Escuela Integrada

By Kristin Royce

Before diving into the amazing outcomes that resulted from the 1st annual “Racing for GRACES 5K,” it should be known that it was a race that almost never was. Six weeks into a worldwide pandemic that most of the world had never seen or experienced before, a decision was made to no longer sit idle and wait for the prayers to be answered for our children and families in Guatemala. It was time to take a (very literal) first step.

From all walks of life and from different corners of the world, a small group of walkers, runners and bikers joined together to help raise awareness for GRACES, and regain a small piece of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation. They did this by pledging to walk, run or bike at least a mile a day for the month of May 2020.

People logged their miles and shared in the accomplishments of others as they kept moving forward. When the group was a week or so into the challenge, having a 5K as a culminating cap to the effort was suggested, and everyone “ran” with it.  Participants shared the news of our Escuela Integrada families and the current state of Guatemala with their social circles, and how they would be racing for them. And the love, donations and new race registrants started pouring in.

One participant, Monique Messer-Baldwin, shared the following:

“I was very moved to do something, having met the kids and their families and seeing the phenomenal impact that Escuela Integrada had on their lives and the trajectory of the lives of these beautiful kids. I couldn’t not do something.

More importantly, I could. This was something in my control, something in my power to reach out to the people that I know. If they had awareness, and if they understood the impact of this COVID shutdown on the lives of human souls and how we were inconvenienced here in the States, they could understand that it was dire in Guatemala. I wanted to raise that level of awareness.

I had full confidence that people would want to do something because we can [do something]. If I had to boil it down to two words, I did it because we can. I shouldn’t say I did it.  All I did was run, run, run, you know, and asked my people to open up their hearts, which wasn’t hard to do.

I think they just wanted to do something.  They wanted to feel good about doing good because they could.”

Over about two and a half weeks, the virtual race registrants and their fundraising efforts brought in enough donations to fund three and a half food bag distributions with a campaign total of $12,681, from 110 unique contributors! This support will feed the 115 families of Escuela Integrada for almost two months!

This also shows the families that, while we cannot be with them right now, they are receiving love and prayers from around the world while we patiently wait for a brighter tomorrow.

If you are interested in racing and/or running a campaign for the 2nd annual Racing for GRACES 5K, please reach out to me at and be sure to follow We Are Graces on Facebook.

Thank you, again, to all participants and contributors!