Eye Opener 5K Run/Walk October 20th - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Eye Opener 5K Run/Walk October 20th

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Don't Drive Drowsy: - Just Pull Over:

Kyle W. Kiihnl Foundation Eye Opener 5K Run/Walk and Fun Run is Oct. 20


MEMPHIS, TENN.  (Sept. 4, 2012)…In the blink of an eye, everything can change.  No one knows that better than the family of Kyle Kiihnl (pronounced Can-el).   On the morning of May 4, 2002, 17-year-old Kyle, a junior at Houston High School, opened his eyes to welcome a new day only to be killed early the next morning by a drowsy driver as he walked on the sidewalk near his home.

Since then, Kyle's aunt, Kathi Wright, has made it her mission to turn that tragedy into triumph by continuing the family's production of the annual Kyle W. Kiihnl Foundation Eye Opener 5K Run/Walk and Fun Run, presented by FedEx Ground, which is dedicated to raising awareness of sleep-impaired driving as well as funds to support a $2500 wrestling scholarship at Houston High in memory of Kyle, who was an avid student of the sport.   This year marks the fourth annual 5K Run/Walk and Fun Run and will take place Saturday, October 20 at Shelby Farms Park.  The 5K Run/Walk begins at 9 a.m. and is free to spectators. For more info or to register, visit www.eyeopener5k.racesonline.com or call Event Director Kathi Wright at 901.486.2984.  Entrants who register by Oct. 1 will save $5 and receive an additional entry in the Select Comfort Sleep Number Bed giveaway. The foundation's Web site that Wright will maintain as a blog is www.kylekiihnlfoundation.com.  Media sponsors include FOX 13, Q107.5 Radio, and Memphis Flyer.

This year, Wright has expanded her advocacy to enlisting the assistance of The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).  Since the week of Aug. 12, "Please Don't Drive Drowsy" has appeared on overhead message boards in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville and will continue in safety message rotation, according to B.J. Doughty, TDOT director of Community Relations & Communications. Also, the Highway Advisory Radio Channel in the urban areas will carry this message: The Tennessee Department of Transportation would like to remind you that a tired driver is a dangerous driver.  Wright has additionally asked state rest areas to stock her prevent drowsy driving info cards.

"Our first event in 2009 drew 100 persons and has been steadily increasing since.  We hope to see 400 this year," said Wright.  "We would also like to open our event to groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and others that seek to enhance awareness regarding impaired driving as well as the utmost need for safety first.  I know Kyle would be happy that we are working to protect others from this senseless plight through education and by getting families involved in a health-centered activity."  

New this year for the 5K, walkers will be given the opportunity to participate along with the runners and will be eligible for trophies, according to Wright. "For safety purposes, the walkers will be stationed behind the runners in the race that begins at the top of a nearby hill.  Those walking will wear a "W" on their race bibs to separate them from the runners."


The free event also includes a live Q107.5 radio remote from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. The radio station will broadcast favorite Q tunes and also feature call-ins on location as well as conduct giveaways and games. 


"We greatly appreciate Q107.5 which has generously provided this additional boost to our event by being an in-kind sponsor," said Wright. "And we are equally blessed to have FOX 13 back on board for us in 2012 as well as Memphis Flyer as a newcomer this year."

In addition to the 5K, children 10 and younger are encouraged to run in their pajamas during a separate Fun Run/Walk held at Patriot Lake and to compete in the Jammin' Jammies Coolest PJ's (pajamas) Contest.   At the Finish Line, participants run through a clothesline full of pajamas.  Trophies will be presented to children who place in the Fun Run.

"We also will have our own prize drawings for giveaways from generous donors, including our grand prize Sleep Number Bed, as well as complimentary treats and drinks courtesy of Costco and Ugly Mug Coffee for the participants.   Plus, Kerry Brady, RN, LMT (licensed massage therapist) will offer 5-minute massages both before and after the race. Each registrant also will receive an Eye Opener T-shirt and goodie bag."

At the end of both races and after the awards are presented, a drawing for door prizes will be held (each registrant qualifies) and then all the names will be added back in for the final drawing to win the grand prize Sleep Number bed, Wright informed.

Following the prize drawings, a balloon launch in memory of lost loved ones will close the event.

Wright, a retired teacher in the Shelby County School system for 32 years (Kindergarten through 3rd grade at Ross, Southwind and Lakeland Elementary), is a runner herself.  "When I tried to walk our five dogs before school…walking turned into running. I have also entered a few races (Memphis Runners Track Club, a 5K at Arlington Elementary and Hope Presbyterian 5K) and always placed 2nd in my age division."


(Awards, T-shirts, goodie bags that include PowerBars for 5K and trophies for kids who place in the Fun Run)




8-8:45 a.m.                            5K runners/walkers register or pick up packets at the Visitors Center


9 a.m.                                     The 5K Run/Walk begins at the top of a nearby hill

                                                Walkers will be positioned behind the runners.


9:30 a.m.                               Fun Run/Walk at Patriot Lake


10 a.m.                                   Jammin' Jammies Contest, trophies awarded  (ages 10 and younger)

A trophy also will be awarded for Best Team Spirit.


If unable to run, any attendee may choose to be a "spirit runner," for the same fee as registration and still receive a T-shirt.


During the event, face painting, games and other activities will be offered.


After the awards are presented, a drawing for door prizes will be held (each registrant qualifies) and then all the names will be added back in for the final drawing to win grand prize Sleep Number bed.


Registration Fees:









5K Run/Walk




Fun Run 10 & Older




Fun Run younger than 10





Statistics below are from the Web site of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in Darien, Ill.:

The U. S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes a year.  These accidents result in an estimated 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths. Though the numbers are most likely higher as there is no breathalyzer test for drowsy driving.

In 2002, The Gallup Organization surveyed more than 4,000 drivers in the U.S. Survey results show that 37 percent of drivers reported nodding off or falling asleep at least once while driving. Males were almost twice as likely as females to report that they had driven drowsy. Gallup estimated that 7.5 million drivers had nodded off while driving in the past month.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute's naturalistic driving study gathered nearly 2 million miles of real-world driving data.  It found that driver drowsiness was a contributing factor in at least 20 percent of all crashes.  The researchers estimated that people are four to six times more likely to have a crash or near crash when they are driving drowsy.


The Kyle W. Kiihnl Memorial Foundation is a 501©3 nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of driving while sleep impaired and in memory of Kyle Kiihnl who was killed by a drowsy driver on May 5, 2002.  The event also is a scholarship fund-raiser for an outstanding wrestler at Houston High School in honor of Kyle who was on the wresting team.  In addition, proceeds from the race also will benefit The Arlington, Va. based National Sleep Foundation's research and community awareness activities. 

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