By Hillary S. Meeks

Killeen Daily Herald

Runners in the inaugural Memorial Christian Academy 5K Warrior Run were kept from overheating by just the right amount of chill in the air Saturday morning.

Organizers of the event and participants worried about possible lightning and rain, but the skies cleared just in time for the kids fun run at 7:30 a.m., followed by the 5K at 8 a.m.

The first fundraising run conducted by the Killeen private school, home of the "Warriors," was a success, with more than 110 runners participating in the 5K and 37 runners in the kids fun run, according to MCA school administrator Sandy Stevens. She said it was her own love of running, paired with the need to raise funds for tuition grants, that brought about the 5K Warrior Run.

"I'm trying to promote health awareness for our staff and students, as well as awareness in the community," Stevens said.

Some of the money raised will go toward helping students who can't afford tuition, and some of it will pay for foster children to attend the school, she said. This past school year, MCA has given three foster students free tuition.

For Linda and Harold Gardener, the grants to provide tuition for foster children was a blessing. With two children of their own, it would have been difficult to finance the private education of two foster children they housed last year.

"We only had to pay for the curriculum and things like that. We wanted them to have a Christian education and get on the right track," Linda Gardener said. "I know there's a lot of other children out there that can also benefit from this."

While there were obviously some serious runners among the crowd, many were parents of students and others from the community who wanted to support the school by being "runners for the day." Included in this category were Elbert and Shawn Grayson, who have a 6-year-old daughter, Laniya Grayson, enrolled at MCA.

"We love it. It's really family-oriented and the parents here look after one another's children," Shawn Grayson said.

Elbert Grayson said that even though he and his wife weren't avid runners, they wanted to come out and raise money for the tuition grants.

"It's a very good curriculum taught by great teachers and every child should have the opportunity to experience that," he said.

The Graysons weren't the only ones making an extra effort to show their Warrior pride by running. Deployed soldiers and government contractors who are related to students also wanted to show their support by running in "Iraq or Kuwait or wherever they are deployed," Stevens said.

Each overseas participant was able to register online and pay a nominal fee for the 5K Warrior Run T-shirts to be shipped to them, she said. Stevens estimated Saturday afternoon there were 50 overseas participants.

Every participant was given a T-shirt, and awards were given to the top three finishers in each age category. The overall male and female winners were given special recognition. The overall male winner was Kenneth Lemons, 39, with a time of 18 minutes and 18 seconds, and the overall female was Andrea Helton, 27, with a time of 19 minutes and 27 seconds.

Contact Hillary S. Meeks at or call (254) 501-7464

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