Oraivi footrace and walk- A dream becomes reality

ORAIVI, Ariz. - Runners and walkers. On your mark, get set, GO! On Aug. 10, the Third Annual Oraivi 8K Footrace and 2-Mile Fun Run and Walk will take place in the Hopi village of Old Oraibi.

This will be the third year for this event.

The Oraivi Footrace is a dream come true for Juwan Nuvayokva, who excelled in running at Hopi High School and became an All-American at Northern Arizona University. With the experience of running competitively, Nuvayokva had a dream of bringing a race to the Native American running community that would be similar to those held around the country and internationally.

The race features an 8K event and non-competitive 2-mile fun run and walk in the Hopi village of Oraivi, which is Nuvyokva's hometown.

Nuvayokva said everyone could participate in this race.

"My hope and intention is not to only include the Hopi people, but the Navajo and non-Native participants," he said.

Nuvayokva said this started with a dream of creating and directing a race that consisted of sponsorships.

"There was very little support from day one. But that did not prevent me from pursuing this goal of wanting to direct a race I have seen around the country. They had big banners, sponsorships, goody bags, basically free stuff," he said.

But in the past couple years the support for the race has grown dramatically as Wal-Mart, APS, Runners World, Active.com, A Runners High, Renee Silas Awards, personal friends, colleagues, and the most recent addition is the running company Saucony.

Saucony became involved with this race through chance. Nuvayokva happened to run into three young men who were running across the country. "I had the chance to help these three fellows by hosting them for three days as they made their 2,800-mile journey across the country," he said.

"These young men were sponsored by Saucony with running shoes and apparel for their journey. Through their connection, they mentioned to the vice president of Saucony about my organization. From there on, one thing led to another, and Saucony, without hesitation, became a sponsor. Saucony is going to sponsor my shoe program that I envisioned of creating in 2009," he added.

Nuvayokva has always had this desire of creating or doing something such as giving shoes or helping the Native American Youth in the sport of running.

"The Oraivi Footrace proceeds were going to be the base for launching such a program that I wanted to later reveal to the public. I noticed the lack of decent running shoes for a lot of young runners," he noted.

Nuvayokva said with this observation, he wanted to help 10, 15, or maybe 20 youth from Hopi and Navajo communities get a chance to receive a pair of shoes that they perhaps couldn't afford. He pushed to have this shoe program become a sister program to the Oraivi Footrace. With the help of Saucony, this program will launch this May.

Nuvayokva said this is his way of giving back because of what somebody did for him when he was running for Hopi High.

"One day while I was in Tempe, ... a man by the name of Ernest Honanie approached me and asked me, 'Do you want shoes?' This guy was willing to buy me a pair of running shoes. I was hesitant, but I knew my mother could not afford buying me a pair of shoes ... This was one of the greatest memories of someone offering a gift to enhance my life and running career," he said.

This shoe program will be called "The Nuvayokva Saucony Shoe Program." This program will be available to elementary, middle, and high school cross-country runners who are on a cross-country team of all abilities. With Saucony's sponsorship, the race sponsors will be able to award 10 individuals with shoes at this year's footrace on Aug. 10.

If you are interested in contributing to this year's Oraivi 8K Footrace, e-mail Hopi_Harrier@yahoo.com. For more information on this event, visit www.oraivifootrace.com.

As the Nuvayokva Saucony Shoe Program continues to grow, in the future Nuvayokva hopes to award not just 10, but maybe 15, 20, or even more with running shoes.

For 2009, Nuvayokva is planning to add a Kids 1 Mile Run and Walk that will be strictly for the young ones. With this, they register, and return they receive a goody bag. An example would be a Harkins movie theater ticket and other incentives. They may have their special shirt made for them. On the Web site, the vision/shoe program link, those interested will get a better idea of this goal. The goal was to launch a shoe program in 2009, but Saucony more then willing make this goal a reality in 2008 jumping a year ahead then expected.

Nuvayokva said this is the best race on Hopi. "I can say that the awards we give for this event are all hand-crafted Hopi traditional Items. For example, our medals we award are medallions made of Hopi clay pottery, and our overall awards consist of Hopi Kachina dolls, baskets, and pottery," he said.

The medallions are donated by Renee and Darin Silas of Polacca.

"It's a fun event. I invite everyone of all levels to come and participate and have fun," he said.

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