More than 100 people donning tutus and running shoes showed up for the first-ever Tutu Trot at Imagine Nation Brewing on Saturday afternoon, along with a few dogs sporting tutu-esque collars.
About 150 people traversed the 2.2-mile course that crossed over the California Street bridge, looped around the Clark Fork River Trail, came back over the bridge and eventually landed back at Imagine Nation, where beers awaited participants of age to imbibe.
The Boys & Girls Club of Missoula County organized the event as a fundraiser for the organization, which keeps youth busy outside of school with various after-school and out-of-school programs.
The precisely-measured 2.2-mile course represented the 22,000 youth living in Missoula County.
Friends, coworkers, couples and families of all ages attended the trot, which offered a little bit of everything from live music and food trucks to carnival games and raffles.
Theresa Reed, Heather Barnhart, Barb Olds and Holly Moore attended the race in matching red, white and blue tutus with a group of coworkers from Opportunity Bank of Montana.
Barnhart said the group often participates in community activities together, but this was their first run. Many of the participants, like Barnhart’s group, opted to walk, or rather trot, for the event.
The event aimed to raise community awareness of the Boys & Girls Club. The tutus, beer and face-painting were an added bonus.
“The Boys & Girls Club has been in Missoula for over 20 years but we feel as if a lot of folks don't know that we're here and don’t know about the work that we do,” said Katie Moore, the CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Missoula County.
The organization serves about 440 youth every year through five Missoula clubhouses.
Signs posted on the brewery’s bar included various statistics to inform attendees that, for example, the organization provided 1,200 hours of club time — the equivalent of 171 school days — to each member in 2018.
Doug Lawrence, the board president, said the different locations make the Missoula Boys & Girls Club unique compared to other branches across the nation. It was also Lawrence's first time wearing a tutu.
The five locations allow the club to reach more youth and provide after-school programs for kids who don’t live in central Missoula for nine months of the year. For the other three months when students are on summer break, the Missoula location has been the sole location for camps.
This year, the summer camp is expanding to the Bonner community. Funds raised from the Tutu Trot will help provide scholarships for kids to attend the nine-week summer club.
Moore said the group will go to Bonner once a week this summer.
"The vision is by next summer, we have enough funds in place to be able to do a second summer club out in Bonner all five days," Moore said.
The event was sponsored by Lithia Ford of Missoula and the Headwaters Foundation as title sponsors, as well as Trail West Bank, Partnership Health Center, Ink Realty Group, Farm Bureau Financial Services and Missoula Federal Credit Union.
Moore said Imagine Nation was an obvious choice when it came to picking a location for the event based on its history of community-focused events.
"They've had more community events than days they've been open as a brewery," Moore said. "They think of their beers as second to their community-oriented mindset."
Plus, if running isn't of interest to someone, beer might be.