Claire Bear 5K race supports hope, life, family

The upcoming Claire Bear 5K race honors a Princeton family's daughter and aims to "support life and hope." Left to right are members of the Pruett family: Cally, Chris, Carson, Kristin holding Claire and Carter.
The upcoming Claire Bear 5K race honors a Princeton family’s daughter and aims to “support life and hope.” Left to right are members of the Pruett family: Cally, Chris, Carson, Kristin holding Claire and Carter.

Claire Pruett may have only lived from May 3 until May 8, but she left a legacy of love, hope and strength that amazed her family and motivated supporters to organize an inaugural event that honors her and offers comfort to any parents who have lost a child.
The Claire Bear 5K takes place 8-11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, beginning and ending at the New Life Christian Center, 2061 100th Ave., Princeton. Registration is available before the race through the church’s website and on race day near the starting line.
Claire had spinal muscular atrophy, an incurable genetic condition in which there is no communication between the brain and the muscles; Kristin Pruett said the disorder affects from one in 6,000-10,000 babies. She said the family’s excitement about Claire’s birth turned to shock when they learned of the grim prognosis. Their baby didn’t cry, had no muscle tone, was barely breathing and needed a respiratory tube.
The family made the most of their time with Claire. Parents Chris and Kristin and their three children, 8-year-old Carter, 6-year-old Carson and 3-year-old Cally, held Claire, sang and talked to her, played music for her and started a “Prayers for Claire” Facebook page. The Pruetts got to spend about an hour outside the hospital with Claire in a nearby park.
Kristin said her youngest daughter didn’t move much except her fingers when talked to and didn’t make much noise, “But her eyes, oh, her eyes had so much depth to them when she would look at you.”
Claire’s mother said her newborn touched people, and Claire’s “purple ribbon” story traveled the world in those few days. She said people “prayed and sought God like never before because of Claire,” who also taught her family about the “amazing gift of today.”
Race for honor, support
Chris is the children’s pastor at New Life Christian Center, and Kristin said before Claire was born, the children’s ministry had an idea to do a 5K to support the church’s mission work. After Claire’s death, the race committee voted to hold the race in Claire’s honor. Race proceeds go to the Rum River Life Choices Center, which is a nonprofit organization that supports life and is opening an office in Princeton soon.
Kristin said there was also an idea to donate the proceeds to spinal muscular atrophy research, but it made more sense to focus on life and hope. The Pruetts and the race organizers agreed that people could probably relate better to “supporting life” more than they could an incurable disease.
“We feel so blessed to have the race in our little girl’s honor, and we want to share it with others. Through this hard time we have met many others who have lost a child over the years. We want to share this race with them,” Kristin said. “Any parent who participates and has lost a child unborn or of any age will receive a memorial pin. We love to remember our girl and want others to have the chance to remember their child and support each other.”
Having also experienced miscarriage, Kristin said they’re honored to share others’ grief plus give a reason to come together and support hope and life. She said hers and other families also found comfort through such organizations as the Smile Again Ministries and the Whitetail Lodge near Crosslake, Minnesota.
Chris has lived in Princeton since 1997 and Kristin moved here when they got married 11 years ago. A strong faith in God helped them cope. She said during the six days they spent in the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital, she and Chris would wake up and ask God for help. During that most difficult of weeks, the Pruetts learned that nobody is promised a tomorrow.
Knowing their time with Claire was limited forced them to appreciate whatever “today” brought. The family drew comfort from Bible passages from the Book of Psalms, especially the parts where people cried out during hard times and were saved by God. Kristin said they were thankful at the end of each day as they settled into bed in a nearby hospital room.
She said their priorities and thoughts changed on what really matters. Questions of “why” and “what if” bombarded the family at times, but they instead focused on the “who” of God and the fact that he’s always there.
“We know God is for us and we live in a fallen world where things don’t make sense,” Kristin said, “but they sure make more sense with him that without him.”
Race logistics
The Claire Bear 5K on Aug. 29 starts at the New Life Christian Center, and the route goes south on County Road 3, then east on County Road 31 and makes a circle near Mark Park on Second and Third streets before looping back to the church via the same route.
Race organizer Jaime Grant said it is a fun event that people can use to race and be competitive or to walk, have fun and socialize. There will be a pickup wagon for people who cannot finish the race. Registration costs $25, and there’s a cap of $70 on costs to a family. Grant said medals will be awarded to the top three racers in four categories: male, female, ages 13-17 and ages 12 and under. Same-day registration and packet pick-up runs from 6:30-7:30 a.m., and New Life will serve refreshments after the race.
Grant said, “We have had an outpouring of sponsorship and support.”
Individuals, businesses, families, friends of the church and many others have donated services or money to make the race happen, including things like racer’s bibs and winner medals, as well as water, T-shirts, giveaway prizes and elite sponsorship. Get more information about the Claire Bear 5K at the New Life website,