SCHODACK, N.Y. (NEWS10) – People put on their running shoes this morning to raise money for the 16th annual Year of Literacy Race at Schodack Island State Park.

The race is a 5K run that helps those in need learn how to read and write, by raising money and awareness for literacy. It was emceed by NEWS10 Sports’ own Josh Rultenberg, for the third consecutive year.

Several organizers and participants commented on their joy in being a part of such a great event.

Judy Smith, Executive Director, Literacy Volunteers of Rensselaer County knows that helping others is in her DNA.

“I’ve always enjoyed volunteering, so it’s just a perfect fit to be part of this organization,” Smith said.

For twenty years, Smith was a school teacher and now she’s the executive director for this program.

“We see accomplishments all the time and it’s wonderful to be part of such a good, wonderful environment,” Smith said.

Liz Clark is an organizer of the event and she values the importance of childhood literacy.

“Growing up, I just remember it was such an important part of my life,” Clark said. “My parents would read to me before bedtime and it just breaks my heart that some of the kids don’t have that.”

Clark knows this is a fun day, but also carries an important message.

In addition to the run they also have this, the story trail. You start at the beginning of the trail with the first page of the book and then you walk down the path and along the way you find more pages of the book until you get to the end of the trail, and the last page of the book.

“The idea behind the story walk is for the family to be able to enjoy the outdoors while also enjoying a story together,” said Melissa Tacke, Director of Castleton Public Library

The goal never changes, and the job is never finished. Organizers know that hard work putting the event together has residual effects on the growth of literacy.

“It’s a great organization to provide to individuals who really want to improve their lives,” Smith said.

“The day is here. Hard work pays off. But then once it’s over we get right back to planning for next year,” Clark said