Kent resident planning marathon through city and Franklin Township

By Thomas Gallick | Staff Writer Published:

A Kent resident is planning a marathon that will take runners through the city and Franklin Township to benefit non-profits that work with the victims of domestic violence.

The city of Kent has approved Melissa Cairns' application to host the On My Own Two Feet Marathon and half-marathon from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 20.

Cairns, who is a survivor of domestic violence, said she started On My Own Two Feet to use her passion for running to raise funds for local domestic violence shelters.

"It happened far enough back that I'm very comfortable talking about it, and feel that I can really do something to help the women and children that are currently in that situation now," Cairns said.

Earlier this month, Kent City Council unanimously approved permission for the event, which will start at Beckwith Orchards on Lake Rockwell Road and travel west on The Portage Hike and Bike Trail toward Kent. The half-marathon will wrap up at Middlebury Road, where the marathon runners will turn around and run the same path back to Beckwith Orchards.

The race will close the Fairchild Avenue Bridge, a stretch of Stow Street and lanes on Gougler Avenue and North Water Street during the race.

The city will bill the organization for overtime pay for the two police officers and two service department workers required for traffic control at the event.

On My Own Two Feet hosted its first race last year, but this is the first year it required city services to hold the race. Even after paying for city services, Cairns said she hopes to raise a healthy amount to donate.

"Last year, with no promotion other than word of mouth, we had 120 people," she said. "It was a big success."

Cairns said last year's event raised $5,000 for the Safer Futures shelter in Ravenna, the Cleveland Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center and Summit County Women's Shelter, a total she hopes to double this year.

Cairns, a math teacher at Buchtel Community Learning Center, made national headlines recently after she was placed on paid administrative leave for posting a photograph on Facebook of her students with duct tape over their mouths.

According to the Associated Press, the Akron Education Association teacher's union has requested a hearing of Cairns' case before a referee, who will make a recommendation to the Akron Board of Education about Cairns' future with the district.

Cairns said regardless of whether she remains employed by Akron schools, she will continue to promote and prepare the marathon.

"Regardless of what ends up being the turnout of (the case), I always have time for (the marathon)," Cairns said. "This is my passion. You find time for what you're passionate for."

Kent Police Chief Michelle Lee, who signed off on Cairns' application to hold the marathon, said because Cairns had not done anything criminal and the event did not raise safety concerns, the department has no reason to cancel the race.

"I'm hoping (Cairns will) resolve her issues in Akron and she can focus on the marathon," Lee said.

Potential runners or donors can learn more about the event at onmyowntwofeet.org.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1126 or tgallick@recordpub.com

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