Lawson Emmert, 7, joined hundreds of other kids Wednesday in rallying to run the 1-mile Amway Junior.

It was one of West Michigan’s warmest days in quite some time, and it brought out droves of eager runners.

“I’m gonna run a few laps on the track,” Lawson said. “It’s all about having fun.”

This isn’t Lawson’s first time running the Amway Junior, either.

“I liked it last time,” he said. “It was fun because of all of the treats you get at the end.”

He hoped for doughnuts this time around.

Lawson’s mom, Stacy Emmert, a pediatric orthopedic physician assistant at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, was on hand to provide medical support at the event.

Stacy said she’s not quite in shape for the 25K River Bank Run this year, so she’ll settle with the 10K.

She ran the 25K River Bank Run almost every other year. This year her sons, Cullen, 10, and Lawson will join her and her husband at the River Bank Run.

“The kids will run in the 5K, I’m planning to do the 10K,” she said. Her husband, Chris, is running the 5K with their sons.

Running is great exercise, she said, and she encourages her boys to run for fun.

“That’s the best way to get kids to start running,” Stacy said. “It’s not racing. They are running for themselves and trying to do their best.”

Kids at the event also got to meet tortoise and hare characters, Cruiser from Craig’s Cruisers, and Maranda from WOOD TV-8.

Post-race events included the Blue Care Network Family Fun Area, which featured inflatables, face painting, tattoos and more.

The race is a great way to bring families outdoors to participate in a healthy activity together, said Kelsey Bako, community relations lead at Spectrum Health.

“Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is proud to sponsor the Amway Junior,” Bako said. “This event is a nice way to get kids interested in running and noncompetitive sports at a young age.

“The goal of the race aligns nicely with the mission of the hospital’s Health Optimization Services program that helps kids take attainable steps toward a healthy lifestyle and weight.”

Adam Nicholson, MD, pediatric emergency medicine physician and medical director of quality and safety at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, was on hand with his team, providing on-site medical support at the race.

“It’s so important and exciting to have events like this that get kids outside to be physically active,” he said. “Today is a fun event with activities, games and prizes.”

Kids should be encouraged to get outside and play every day, Dr. Nicholson said.

“Exercise should be a fun thing,” he said. “Not a burden or something you feel you have to do.”

Dr. Nicholson said he saw plenty of smiles at the race, and he hopes the event gets more kids outside and interested in running.

“This is just a fun event,” he said. “I tell the kids if they need to walk or take a break, that’s completely OK. Just do your best.”