After successfully hosting several races in the community and contributing more than $1400 in cash and in-kind donations to local non-profits, area running group Story of a Runner (SOAR) is now helping the county’s homeless coalition, Cowley House of Hope (CHOH).


The first Cup of Hope 5k and one-mile run or walk for all ages will take place Saturday, November 9 at 3:00 p.m. at Shepherd’s Grace Church in Arkansas City with a course utilizing the hike and bike path and Veteran’s Memorial Lake.


“Our running group started in 2017 to help encourage, motivate, and support people who run or want to start running,” expressed Sarah Bryant, Story of a Runner member. “Once we started organizing races as well, we realized we can use our passion for helping our community grow in other ways.”


At a Winfield Rotary Club meeting, Bryant heard Winfield Family Therapy’s Sarah Beardslee, LCPC, speak about the organization’s efforts to develop a homeless shelter in Cowley County.


Beardslee shared that CHOH has secured a location for a homeless shelter and is currently raising funds toward renovations at Shepherd’s Grace Church to meet the needs of homeless women, men, and children.


“Many of the homeless in Cowley County are moving from one bad situation to another – living under a bridge, finding an abandoned house, or living in their car,” articulated Beardslee.


Mark Littell of Winfield USD #465 said this year the school district identified between 20 and 30 students meeting the definition of homeless, “We asked staff to report if they believe a child may be homeless. We then start providing services immediately, even as we determine if the child qualifies.”


According to Beardslee, when options run out, homeless are transported to another city. Commonly shelters in Wichita or El Dorado are used, which are limited amount of beds.


“This final option is often one that may worsen the situation for those who are working a job in the county and/or have children attending school,” explained Beardslee.


These disheartening situations led Story of a Runner group to select Cowley House of Hope as its next race partner. Proceeds from the race will benefit CHOH’s county-wide initiative.


All participants in either the 5k or one-mile run or walk will receive a race bib, shirt, and campfire mug. Ike’s Donut Truck will be on site, providing participants a free cup of coffee or cocoa to fill their mug. Fresh donuts will also be available for sale. Prizes will be given to the top male and female finishers.


Story of a Runner founder Jessica Dorman shared her reasons behind offering this family-friendly event, “Starting a journey towards being active isn’t easy. It’s hard, but it’s better if you have a support system. We try to be that for local runners, and with the Cup of Hope we can help lift up those in need too.”


Race-day registration is welcome. Online registration at ends at noon on Friday, November 8.


Both organizations have established funds at Legacy Regional Community Foundation. To contribute, call 620-221-7224 or go online at



About Cowley House of Hope

The Cowley House of Hope are people working together to provide safe shelter for people in need. There are many great resources Cowley County offers to help people get back up on their feet after tough times; however, the lack of a temporary, emergency shelter creates a gap in services that works against those sincerely working to get back up. Out of this realization, Cowley House of Hope was born. Our mission is to provide temporary housing and assistance for the homeless women, men, and children to find stable housing, work, food and develop living skills.


About Story of a Runner

Founded in 2017, #StoryofaRunner Group (SOAR) was created to keep communication flowing about area races and running events. Our goal is to encourage others that run or want to start running. Beginning in 2018, the group began hosting runs in the Cowley County area. This page was created to help with promotions for these events and to provide more information to the public about our efforts. SOAR is growing as a group and in our community! Our mission: “#StoryofaRunner is here to show motivation, encouragement, and support to our fellow runners. We all have a story as to why we run. What’s yours?”