Ten-year-old organizes kid’s bike race to promote healthy lungs

Last year’s Race and Puff benefited a teen smoking cessation program. This year, proceeds go to Peninsula Puffers, a summer camp for kids who have asthma. (Jennifer Aist)

The organizer of a kid’s bike race in Anchorage Saturday wants to raise awareness for the importance of healthy lungs.

The race, called Race and Puff, is in it’s second year. Proceeds will benefit Peninsula Puffers, a summer camp for kids who have asthma. Last year’s funds went to a teen smoking cessation program. Racers as young as two will race against themselves, rather than competing against other participants. They’ll get a raffle ticket for each lap they complete.

“Well, I know that I like the feeling of winning, everybody does I think. And I want all the participants to feel like they’re winning or at least having a chance to win,” race organizer Merridy Littell said.

Littell is only 10 but that didn’t stop her from wanting to help a man she saw smoking when she was riding her bike two years ago. Her solution? A bike race that could help people quit.

“At first I thought it would never work out, but now it’s turned into a two-year race,” Littell said.

Littell turned a fleeting idea into a full-blown event with the help of her mother and a kids’ committee of three 11-year-olds. She and the other kids came up with the idea for the race, gathered the donations and designed the posters all on their own.

“I have definitely learned that even though you are small, you can help the community, but I’ve also learned more practical things as in typing and email composition,” Littell said.

The race fundraiser starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at Service High School in Anchorage. Littell  said she hopes it will help kids with asthma realize that they can still play sports.

Erin McKinstry is Alaska Public Media's 2018 summer intern. She has an M.A. from the University of Missouri's School of Journalism and a B.A. from Knox College. She's reported stories for The Trace, The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, Harvest Public Media, the IRE Radio Podcast, KBIA and The Columbia Missourian.

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