YoungLives helps teen moms, moms-to-be with help from runners

The Hamilton YoungLives annual 5K race on Thanksgiving Day keeps growing. Next year is the 10th race and it’s expected to be bigger and better, organizers told the Journal-News.

Bigger and better should equate to more funds raised for the YoungLives ministries, which assists local teen moms and mothers-to-be in need. The race has already raised thousands of dollars for the cause.

The YoungLives Thanksgiving Day 5K, which Meyer Brothers & Sons has been the title sponsor for the past two years, started in Hamilton neighborhoods in 2015 as a new community tradition. It’s moved from the neighborhood streets to the city’s main corridor. It’s also added a global component where runners from around the world can register and participate virtually, said Katie Powers, a co-founder of the race.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“It’s really continued to grow significantly every year, except during (the first year of) COVID, but even then it kind of doubled back the next year,” said Powers. “As we’ve grown, it’s definitely become more of an effort to put it on. And so it does kind of call into question, ‘Do we keep doing this?’ and every year, we choose to say ‘yes’ because of our passion for this ministry and for the teen parents that benefit and are being cared for by YoungLives ― there’s nothing else out there that exists that provides the mentorship and relationship and care and community that that YoungLives is providing for them.”

YoungLives is a non-denominational ministry for pregnant and parenting young moms, ages 14 to 21, and is part of the greater Young Life organization. YoungLives helps young mothers and young moms-to-be build positive peer relationships and have ongoing, reliable support from mentors. And even after 21, there is support for the moms and kids.

“We are working with young adolescent mothers from all over the county, and the Miami Valley region, and what we do with the funds that are raised is that we’re able to increase our connection with those moms,” said Kamie Dixon, coordinator for YoungLives in the Greater Miami Valley region.

The mentorship offered are one-on-one programs to help moms and their kids with day-to-day living.

“We really are focusing on the whole family unit,” said Dixon. “It’s a challenge to raise young children. But this outreach isn’t just for teen moms.”

Dixon said they are also looking to expand the focus toward young dads because “we believe that whole family unit is helping encourage these young ones.”

“We want that role to be upheld, whether it’s a young man stepping into a parenting role with child who’s not his own, or who is parenting their own child, we want them to know that they have a very important and equal opportunity to impact their child for good.”

YoungLives is currently impacting up to a dozen young moms every month, and anywhere from 12 to 20 kids. But that number is growing. But Powers and Dixon said there are some teen moms trying to raise their kids on their own, and they want to stress that they have a community and they don’t have to do it alone.

“We are hoping with the resources raised that we will be able to be in contact with more of these teen moms to not only be an advocate for them, but to also provide a community,” Dixon said.

She said many teen parents have friend groups who are going in a different direction in life, and don’t have parental responsibilities. Connection with a group like YoungLives is that much more important, Dixon said.

To participate in the 2024 YoungLives Thanksgiving Day run, which is expected to include a 10K, visit

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