Inspired by the ever-growing popularity of Red Dog’s Dog Days, a small group of local health and business leaders working together on a new initiative called LiveWell Lawrence came up with a novel idea: What if Lawrence could set a world record for the largest community workout?
“We were looking for a fun, attention-getting way to get the community talking about how we can help each other live healthier,” Douglas County Community Foundation Executive Director Chip Blaser said. “Some of us are Dog Days regulars. We know that the encouragement and support that Dog Days provides is what keeps us moving.”
According to Blaser, who has participated in Dog Days for five years, the group thought it would be great if more people could have that Dog Days’ experience. Trying to set a world record seemed like the perfect way.
“The more the idea was talked about, the more real it became,” board member of the Douglas County Community Foundation Mike McGrew said.
There was no one better to ask for help gunning the record than Don “Red Dog” Gardner, whose Dog Days draw hundreds of participants on a daily basis. With Gardner’s love for Lawrence and reaching new people through his workouts, he had no hesitation in wanting to help, despite his recent diagnosis of prostate cancer in February.
Thus, in addition to a goal of getting thousands of attendees, LiveWell Lawrence hopes to really recognize Gardner and Dog Days during this time, according to McGrew.
“(Gardner) is amazed that everybody is giving him so much support,” Red Dog’s wife and chief volunteer Beverly Gardner said. “He gives so much and doesn’t expect anything in return.”
So on July 8, Lawrence is recognizing Dog Days and challenging the world as the idea becomes reality. The evening session of Dog Days will be moved to Shenk Fields, Kansas University’s soccer fields at 23rd and Iowa. The workout will accommodate every person in Lawrence, those who would rather walk, intense runners, children and people in wheelchairs or who wish to bring strollers, according to Gardner.
“It will be toned down a little,” Gardner said. “But I still want people to get their workout.”
Organizers of LiveWell Lawrence contacted the Guinness Book of World Records to make them aware of the event, but found too much red tape to pass in making it an official record at this point. Rather, the community is declaring it a world record, challenging other cities to organize a bigger event.
“I don’t think people have gotten their hands around what potential this has,” McGrew said. “Nothing bad will come out of this activity whether an official world record is set or not.”
This activity will be free, as is every session of Dog Days. However, all participants must complete a signed waiver. The waiver can be found online at reddogsdogdays.org. Those under 18 must have the waiver signed by a parent or guardian. Participants are asked to park in KU’s Park and Ride lots west of the fields, and arrive at 5:30 p.m. for registration. The workout is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. and last about 45 minutes.
The point of the World’s Largest Community Workout, according to organizers of LiveWell Lawrence, is to bring the community together, have a good time and feel rewarded about being active.
“It’s not as hard as people think,” Gardner said. “Look at me, I have faded a little. But I can still do something.”