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Walk in couple’s memory among events to get you moving, giving

Some of Wichita’s benefit walks and runs raise money. Others raise awareness for causes.

And some, such as one scheduled this weekend in Maize, remember those who have died – such as high school sweethearts Kylie Brooke Jobe and Kyle Thornburg.

Jobe was a 20-year-old, funny, family-oriented sophomore at Oklahoma State University; Thornburg was a 22-year-old soccer player and Wichita State University student. Both were killed last March when a drunken driver going the wrong direction on I-70 near Wilson struck their SUV head-on.

The pair were driving home from Colorado after a family ski trip during spring break.

“They basically were the love of each other’s lives. … They were never apart for very long,” said Robin Thornburg, Kyle’s mother. “I think a lot of kids looked up to the relationship that Kyle and Kylie had.”

The Run2Believe 5K Walk/Run, which starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, marks the one-year anniversary of their deaths while providing an overarching message as proms and graduations approach, said event organizer Emily Gerstner: Drinking and driving is dangerous.

“I just want students to think twice about getting behind a wheel after they’ve been drinking,” said Gerstner, who is a long-time friend of the Jobe family. “I want them to think twice about making those decisions.

“It doesn’t only affect the person getting behind the wheel. It can affect a long line of individuals that they will never know.”

Jobe’s family (her mother, Barby Jobe; her father, Mike Jobe; and 13- and 16-year-old brothers) and the Thornburgs (Robin, her husband, Doug, and Kyle’s younger brother, Eric) and other family members plan to be among the 800 people expected at the race. Warm-up activities start at 8 a.m. at Maize High School, 11600 W. 45th St. North, between 119th Street and Maize Road.

Registration runs through Friday at Wichita GoRun stores and the Northwest Branch YMCA. On-site sign-up starts at 8 a.m. Saturday in the Maize High School commons area. The cost is $30 per participant and is open to all ages.

Saturday’s 5K is among dozens of fundraising walks and runs scheduled this year in Wichita.

Among the new walks are one for the Head for the Cure Foundation, which will finance brain-tumor clinical trials in Houston, and one to benefit House of Hope Wichita, which is hoping to open a residential program for troubled teens. Ballet Wichita will have a walk that will include entertainment by various arts organizations.

A couple of older events have new elements.

The walk to benefit the American Heart Association is moving from a Saturday morning at Cessna Stadium to a Wednesday evening at Century II and adding a Wesley Run. The Fight for Air Climb to benefit the American Lung Association is moving from Intrust Bank Arena to Cessna Stadium and is adding a 5K run for those who don’t like to climb stairs.

Another event, the three-mile Color Splash Run/Walk on April 28, will honor Suhani Bhakta, a 12-year-old girl who was killed when she was hit by a car in February on South Broadway. Participants will be sprayed with washable colorized water at Cox Fun Farm. Suhani’s cousin, Saajan Bhakta, is organizing the event to benefit his nonprofit organization, PovSolve, which helps the hungry in Wichita and India.

The proceeds from Saturday’s Run2Believe 5K in Maize will be split three ways: a third will go to the Maize high schools’ after-prom celebrations, which are drug- and alcohol-free events. A scholarship fund – likely to benefit soccer players going to college, because her son loved the game – will be set up in Kyle’s name at the Maize Educational Foundation, Robin Thornburg said. The rest will go to Oklahoma State University to create an $25,000 endowment, which will provide a $1,250 scholarship annually, Barby Jobe said.

Donations collected during a pancake feed, hosted by the Maize Lions Club, will also benefit the after-prom events and scholarship funds. The breakfast will be from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday at Maize High School. It is free and open to the public.

“Leaving a legacy will be nice,” Barby Jobe said. “Kylie loved Oklahoma State. She loved everything she was doing there. … I think it’s a really good way to have her legacy live on.”

Here are some of the other benefits planned for the area:

•  Friends University President’s Inaugural Run, Saturday, Friends University, 5K run and 1-mile walk with donations accepted for scholarships. Information: friends.edu/run, 316-295-5900.

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