ValenTimes run to benefit youth program


If you have a heart for leadership programs in Jackson County and for walking or running, an upcoming event is just for you.

Leadership Jackson County’s eighth annual ValenTimes 10K Run and 5K Walk/Run is set for 9 a.m. Feb. 17 at Seymour High School.

The 36th class of Leadership Jackson County currently is going through the adult leadership program, which involves around 20 community leaders each year.

The youth leadership program YoJack is in its 18th year, but this is the first school year it’s being offered to Jackson County seventh-graders in fall and spring sessions.

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That means double the youth are being served, and more funds are needed to ensure the program continues for years to come.

“YoJack has the unique opportunity to positively affect the lives of the youth of Jackson County through the development of their abilities to be leaders now and in the future,” Director Kathy Nelson said. “Being able to double that number means a more positive outlook for our future for Jackson County and wherever the wind carries these amazing kids.”

If you register for the ValenTimes race by Thursday, the cost is $20. From Friday to the day of the race, the cost is $25. If you do not want a T-shirt, take $5 off registration. Online registration is available at

Race sponsorships also are available. The bronze level is $100, while silver is $250, gold is $500 and platinum is $1,000. The silver level receives three free race entries, while gold and platinum receive five.

All proceeds benefit YoJack and Leadership Jackson County. The fundraising goal for this year’s race is $10,000.

Terrye Davidson, director of Leadership Jackson County, said she appreciates the continued support of the nonprofit organization’s largest fundraiser.

“We started fairly small, and each year, we have been able to increase both the community support and the runner participation,” she said. “Of course, the weather is always a factor for participation numbers, but the diehards are always loyal supporters. We always have a strong percentage of participants that come from out of county and even a few from out of state.”

The adult leadership program started as Leadership Greater Seymour in 1982 before evolving into Leadership Jackson County a couple of years later.

More than 700 people have graduated from the program.

“The adult leadership class focuses each year on county awareness, looking at our both our strengths and challenges that are presented by many county leaders, coupled with specific leadership skills, individual personal awareness, working as a small group on a focus-specific project team and gaining the benefit of countywide networking,” Davidson said.

Nelson, a 2016 graduate, said the program allowed her to learn so much about the county.

“I am not originally from Jackson County and truly enjoyed not only learning about but visiting the treasures this county has,” she said. “The networking has proven to be a great resource, as well.”

Brian Sawyers is helping organize this year’s ValenTimes race. He’s a 2007 Leadership Jackson County graduate and is in his second year on the board of directors.

“LJC enhances the skill sets of approximately 20 community leaders every year,” he said. “Ten years after graduation, LJC continues to be the most integral part of my professional and community networking.”

YoJack started in 2000. It included one session per school year until 2017, when two members of the Community Foundation of Jackson County’s board of directors saw value in the program and liked the concept of teaching kids about philanthropy.

They were interested in expanding the program so the message could reach more seventh-graders in the county. The result was seed money for a second session of YoJack in 2017 and 2018.

The Leadership Jackson County board is committed to never charging students to participate in YoJack and will work to secure funding to continue offering two sessions per year.

“I would never want anyone to be told they can’t develop their potential due to financial limitations,” Nelson said. “YoJack students all have the same opportunities due to the generosity of our sponsors, and for that, I am forever grateful.”

Each session now has 38 participants and 12 youth advisers, who are students in a previous session of the program.

The five meetings per session are once a month at different locations around the county.

The first four focus on small- and large-group activities to enhance team-building, leadership, diversity and communication skills. The students also learn about giving back to the community and helping others.

During the fifth meeting, each student makes a presentation in front of their peers sharing how the YoJack experience helped them.

Participation in the program and the presentations help determine the 12 students who come back to the next session as youth advisers.

“Every student has the potential to be whatever and whoever they choose,” Nelson said. “Some need guidance in developing their full potential, and YoJack is a fun and educational program that develops skills like philanthropy, serving, giving and helping.”

Davidson said YoJack brings students from nine county schools together so they can make new friends, hear different perspectives and gain an awareness of the county.

“The students participate in a self-assessment and learn the value of philanthropy, which involves giving of your time, talents and treasures,” she said. “Relevant subjects, including bullying, diversity and realizing they can make a difference even at their age, are addressed. The students leave with increased self-awareness and personal confidence, and we challenge them to go back to their schools, churches and other activities and utilize what they have learned.”

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What: Eighth annual ValenTimes 10K Run and 5K Walk/Run

When: 9 a.m. Feb. 17 (registration starts at 8 a.m.)

Where: Seymour High School, 1350 W. Second St., Seymour

Cost: $20 if registered online at by Thursday; $25 from Friday until the day of the race; take off $5 if you don’t want a T-shirt; make checks payable to Leadership Jackson County

Proceeds: Leadership Jackson County and its youth leadership program, YoJack

Information: Call 812-522-4020 or 812-525-5603, email [email protected] or visit

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For information about Leadership Jackson County, email Director Terrye Davidson at [email protected] or visit or

For information about YoJack, email Director Kathy Nelson at [email protected].


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