The 6th annual Madison Gospel 5K, 10K Run/Walk & Health Fair will take place at Saturday, July 13, 8 a.m. at Penn Park.

Uchenna Jones founded The Madison Gospel 5K Foundation in February of 2019 as a charitable organization focused on the health and wellness of families of color. Every summer, her organization have been hosting a Madison Gospel 5K Run/Walk that just keeps getting bigger and better.

“We first started six years ago with a 5k and then over time, the participants were like, ‘Oh, can we have a 10k?’ They have grown and they wanted more of a challenge,” Jones tells Madison365. “So that’s what we’ve done. We’ve listened to the feedback, and then we added a 10k.”

The following year, some people would tell Jones that they don’t run, but they can dance. So the Madison Gospel 5K Run/Walk added a dance contest. 

“The newest request was made by a young man after we gave away jump ropes one year. He reached out to us and was like, ‘I’ve been practicing a lot … are we going to have a jump rope contest this year?’ So now we’re going to have a jump rope contest for those who want to participate,” laughs Jones. 

“So and it’s just really beautiful … the continuous evolution of this event,” Jones continues. “The medals are for the runners, there are plaques for the dancers, and different gift prizes across all the different genres. So we’re just really listening to the people and offering what they want with the varied movements, and then also presenting community opportunities to share and engage.” 

Jones, who is the community impact director of health at United Way of Dane County, is also a registered nurse and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She uses the initials I.A.M. for the theme of this year’s event — impact, aspire and motivate.

“We can all impact our community and can aspire to be our best and we can motivate each other to achieve greatness,” she says.

On Saturday, the 5K and 10K race will begin at 8:15 a.m. and go through 10 a.m. The kids’ race will take place at 10:30 a.m.  


The annual Madison Gospel 5K Run/Walk & Health Fair

For the past few years, the Annual Madison Gospel 5K, 10K Run/Walk also is home to a health fair with incredible health resources and information. This year’s health fair will take place from 8-11 a.m.

“We’re going to have 26 [health] vendors this year. We’ve never had that many before …we usually have 14-16. So we’re excited about that,” Jones says. “My goal is to grow this event to be the most diverse race where it really embodies the demographics of Madison. We have a beautiful array of people from a variety of backgrounds and we try to bring it together while being culturally aware of what the different ethnic groups need and desire …it’s not an easy task.”

Jones says she’s looking forward to future partnerships and opportunities as the event grows while at the same time centering its focus on mental health.

“July is the month of mental health awareness for people of color, so that’s where the inspiration came to host a race. Many people don’t know that mental health is closely connected to physical health,” Jones says. “So if you’re physically strong, and you’re caring for your body, and you’re caring for that sacred temple, nine times out of 10, your mental well-being is good. But if you’re not taking care of that physical temple, then what ends up happening is your mental health can be compromised in some way.”

Jones started her own personal wellness journey about nine years ago when she found herself really getting overweight and out of shape and not feeling very good about herself.

“I went on my own personal health journey. I’m a nurse by trade, and I found myself at a weight that I’ve never seen before, and it mentally affected me,” Jones recalls. “So I started to work on myself. And in the process of working on myself, I started running.”

The annual Madison Gospel 5K Run/Walk & Health Fair takes place at Penn Park. (Photo supplied.)

Jones noticed that she was often one of just a handful of people of color at these races and running events around Madison and she wanted to change that and that would become one of the impetuses for the Madison Gospel 5K Run/Walk. She says that she believes that through “faith, fellowship and fitness” that we can improve the health and well-being of Madison families in the Dane County area and help them become more active. Since its inception, the Madison Gospel 5K Foundation has done just that for hundreds of families.

“This is such a great event and I would love to continue to host it and to serve the community. We always need to get financial support because we garner all our funding through private donations and working with local businesses and sponsors. It’s not easy doing this amazing work, but it is so fulfilling,” Jones says. “It gives me so much joy to hear people all year wait for this event to come, to see whole families out together, moving together, and to see organizations working across different lines, whether it be faith, whether it be community, whether it be across different ethnic groups.”

Register for the 6th annual Madison Gospel 5K Run/Walk & Health Fair by clicking here.