Daikin Dash

Nearly 100 runners and walkers braved the 5K distance Saturday morning to raise money for Steele County Relay For Life in the fourth-annual Daikin Dash. (Ryan Anderson/People’s Press)

OWATONNA — Nearly 100 runners and walkers braved the 5K distance Saturday morning to raise money for Steele County Relay For Life in the fourth-annual Daikin Dash.

“It’s a good cause,” said Lindsay Johnson, who ran in the inaugural Daikin Dash and returned this year after a two-year hiatus. “I decided last night (to do it). We’ll see how it goes.”

Because of her late commitment, she hadn’t properly trained for Saturday’s 5K, but fortunately “it’s a good course without many hills,” said Johnson, who has also participated in runs for From The Heart and Smokin’ in Steele over the years. “You can enjoy it.”

Her friend, Lindsay Bjorkquist, made her first appearance in the Daikin Dash Saturday, running multiple times in the preceding week to prepare, she said. “I need to get back into running, and it’s a little more motivating when you” have a specific, competitive run on the docket for which to train.

For others, Saturday’s race was about family, like the mother-daughter duo of Melissa and Madison Hinnenkamp, and the father-son team of David and David Levy.

This was the first time in the Daikin Dash for Melissa and Madison, but increased exercise is part of the health plan they started in January, Melissa said. Since embarking upon the new wellness diet — which focuses on daily physical activity and judicious dining decisions — Melissa has dropped an astounding 81 pounds.

Both hoped to complete the Daikin Dash in under 49 minutes Saturday, she said. “We walk about 10 miles (per) day,” which “has helped” prepare them for Saturday’s 5K.

The elder Levy’s goal Saturday was 25 minutes, while his son was looking to crack the 19-minute mark, said the senior Levy. “We kind of run together, at the start, and then I see him at the finish line.”

Though both ran in the Smokin’ in Steele race last month, this was their first time at the Daikin Dash.

“I signed us both up online,” said the younger Levy. The elder Levy is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church, and associate pastor Matt Tolosa, who has completed the Daikin Dash several times with his family, spoke highly of it, so “we thought it would be fun.”

Both father and son are dedicated runners, he added. “We try to run practically every day Monday-Saturday.”

The Daikin Dash is the brainchild of Sarah Bettin, who started a Relay For Life team in 2011 when her daughter was battling cancer, she said. Fortunately, that story has a happy ending, as her daughter will celebrate “seven years cancer-free in September.”

In an effort to raise funds for Relay For Life, Bettin launched this 5K, which typically attracts roughly 100 runners and walkers, she said. A Daikin employee, Bettin has enjoyed immense support from her company in the endeavor, which is why “they are our biggest sponsor.”

She also is grateful for her “many helpers,” the volunteers who guarantee the event runs smoothly, she said. Runners, walkers, and volunteers are “all here for a reason.”

Indeed, all proceeds from the Daikin Dash benefit Steele County Relay For Life, which actually celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. In that quarter-century, Steele County Relay For Life has raised more than $2 million for the American Cancer Society.

Reach Reporter Ryan Anderson at 507-444-2376 or follow him on Twitter @randerson_ryan.

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