Bright and early on the Fourth of July, fine Americans from every walk, trot, gallop and dash of life will put their feet to the street as Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice kicks off its 42nd Annual Freedom Run 5K.

At least 1,000 patriotic pedestrians are expected to pace the gloriously green 3.1-mile route from Evergreen Middle School to Evergreen Athletic Club, some of them eager to make time, others content to take it, and all of them happy to commit their Kicks to an important mountain-area cause.

“Everyone comes out for this event,” says Karen Aalund, Mount Evans’ director of philanthropy. “Families, kids, dogs, friends. Being a 5K that people can walk as well as run brings out both runners looking to compete, and families, friends and neighbors looking to spend time together supporting an amazing cause. Many of our participants have been doing this race for years, and many have grown up doing it.

“Many others have had a personal experience with Mount Evans, from therapy, helping them rehab after an accident or injury, to helping care for a family member at the end of their life. For them, the Freedom Run is part of their healing journey. That’s what makes it special, and why it’s important.”
Beloved community traditions like the Freedom Run can’t happen without plenty of help from the community, and the race couldn’t get out of the gate without generous support from sponsors, both commercial and private. Josh Dembicki of Bellwether Windows, Siding & Doors will be lacing up as Presenting Sponsor again this year, a leading position that fits snugly into both his personal and professional outlooks.

“We care about investing in the community, not just as a business, but as a neighbor,” Josh explains. “At core what we do is restore people’s homes. Mount Evans restores people’s well-being. This event aligns with our values.”

Paving the way for so many feet requires a multitude of willing hands, and a not-so-small army of volunteers is needed to keep the 5K on track. Typical tasks include posting signs, hanging banners, assembling swag bags, registering runners and staffing water stations. Volunteers also serve up mountains of food and lakes of cold beverages at the Freedom Run’s now-legendary Finish Line After Party. As ever, the morning’s festive finale will be graciously and ably hosted by Evergreen Athletic Club owners Tabor and Laura Cowden.

“The best part of being a race volunteer is seeing familiar faces, maybe people you haven’t seen since last year, and meeting new volunteers and participants from the mountain community,” says Christy Holbrook. A former Mount Evans board member and tireless volunteer for the agency, Christy is proof positive that it’s not work if you love doing it. “My favorite memories of the Freedom Run were being on Susan Stearns’ food team. We had so much fun putting the sack lunches together and handing them out to the hungry participants as they came in from the race.”

Of course, the meat and potatoes of any race are those who wear the bibs, and longtime Evergreen resident Joy Poirot has spent more than a few sunny Fourth of July mornings winding the Freedom Run’s pine-shaded ways.

“I’m not sure when my first race was, but I’ve entered consistently for the last 30 years,” say Joy. While she’s busy pounding pavement, Joy’s husband, Bob, customarily mans the equally honorable Blue Spruce Kiwanis popcorn machine at the finish line. “I now enter in the 80-plus age group,” Joy smiles, “and there are some pretty competitive runners even in this age group!”

Those thinking about running the Centennial State’s most felicitous 5K, or ambling it, or just taking their dog for an extra-exciting 3.1-mile walk, can sign on any time. Early Bird registration for a place in the Independence Day sun costs $40 for grown-ups and $20 for kids under 18. The rates go up $5 on June 27, and $5 more on the morning of the Fourth. Race bibs will be provided by Mount Evans and should be compatible with most athletic ensembles, however outlandish.
“This year will feature a costume contest,” says Karen, “with prizes awarded to both humans and dogs.”

Those thinking about volunteering their time and talents to the Freedom Run, or about becoming a Freedom Run sponsor, or about simply making a financial donation in support of Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice’s countless necessary works, will find their gifts gratefully repaid with a happier, healthier mountain community, along with a healthy measure of personal satisfaction.

The race to meet the physical and emotional needs of individuals and families in crisis has no finish line, and the privilege of bringing health, hope and healing to the most vulnerable residents of their four-county service area is better than any medal. For the hardworking folks at Mount Evans, winning means continuing to provide essential home health care and hospice to our mountain and foothills communities, and sustaining a host of desperately needed services and programs including, but by no means limited to, grief counseling and support groups, respite care for family caregivers, and Camp Comfort, a bereavement camp for children.
“The Freedom Run is all about getting together as a community, getting some exercise, breathing some fresh air, and just having fun,” says Christy’s husband, Jon. “Most importantly, it’s an opportunity for us to support one of our mountain community’s most important nonprofit organizations.”

“If this is your first Freedom Run, it will be the start of something that is bigger than you can imagine,” Christy adds. “It’s an epic Evergreen holiday tradition.”
To learn more about the Freedom Run, register for the race, become a sponsor, or make a donation to Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice, visit