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5K color run honors Reagan Carter

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By Randy Patrick

Under a gray sky, Dean Watts Park erupted in bright colors Saturday as teenagers and others who walked in the Reagan Carter 5K Color Run were doused with paint at points along the way.

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There was dancing and laughter while waiting for the walk to begin as a DJ played fun tunes including “Love Shack” and “Uptown Funk.”

Walkers attached stickers with positive messages of encouragement and kindness to their clean white tees before they started, but they didn’t stay clean for long. As they passed paint stations, they were covered in pink, purple and teal powdered paint.

And after the nearly three-mile trek ended, they had a big paint war using water guns and water balloons and individual packets of powder.

“I think people liked that part of it more than anything, the paint war and color throw at the end,” said Melanie Carter Hack, Reagan’s mom. “There was a lot of laughter and squealing.”

Many of those who attended were girls who were Reagan’s friends and classmates.

The color run was to raise awareness of the problems of bullying and teen suicide.

Reagan died of an overdose of cough suppressant four years ago because she had been a victim of bullying.

Her mom now gives talks in schools, and events like the one this past weekend raise money for the Reagan’s Voice Foundation to support her efforts, purchase materials, fund other events and contribute to things such as playground equipment.

The first color run included 140 registered participants and raised about $1,500 in entry fees and donations.

One of Reagan’s friends, Gabby Abell, said she spoke for others.

“We’re here to keep our friend’s voice alive,” to send a message that bullying is “not OK, and to show her family that they have support with her age group, and just to be here for them,” she said.

Some kids said what had happened was sad, but they wanted the atmosphere to be fun and positive, because that’s how Reagan would have wanted it.

“I just want to spread positivity and let everyone know that they have meaning. Like this is just good fun and everyone can have a good time and be happy,” Amber Keene said.

The 5K color run this year replaced an annual walk in Reagan’s memory.

“I wanted it extra-special because this year Reagan would have been Sweet 16,” Melanie said. “Reagan and I had done a color run together, and I thought: What a way to honor her memory and celebrate her life. She would love it, especially with the amazing turnout we’ve had, and the bright colors, and getting dirty.”

The paint colors had significance. Purple represents suicide prevention, teal is for preventing bullying, and pink was one of Reagan’s favorite colors. But at the end, there was a multitude of hues.

The combatants hurled 540 water balloons and wielded 144 water guns for the paint war.

As the participants were lining up for the walk, the mom shared with them that her daughter had a “bucket list” of 63 things she wanted to do while she lived, and one was to have a paint war, so they were going to have one for her.

It was rainy most of Saturday, but not until after the festivities were over. In fact, at times during the morning, the sun burst through the clouds and brightened everyone’s day.

“I like to think that was Reagan shining down on us,” Melanie said.