The United Way Color Dash – Social Experiments Are Cool!

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Things To See in Western NebraskaThe United Way Color Dash - Social Experiments Are Cool!


The United Way Color Dash happens on June 4th beginning at Five Rocks Amphitheater in Gering, NE at 8:00 AM. This year the event is being sponsored by Riverstone Bank and an anticipated 1,000 runners, walkers, joggers, and casual strollers are expected to attempt this landmark event in WyoBraska.

Story by: Hawk Buckman

Sometime in the past, an extraordinary young marketing professional was asked to come up with a unique idea for outdoor running enthusiasts’ events.

Whomever this now legendary person was, their idea was to have people register to run in an event for $25.00 (adults), $20.00 (students) plus a $1.00 credit card processing fee if purchased online to show support for local people and communities in need.

Then, cleverly and unsuspectingly, have the registrants show up in their very best running clothes and head out to support a great cause.

The money would be collected, and then distributed, among 18 agencies serving western Nebraska (WyoBraska) communities each year. Hey, this is a really great idea! But would it work?

Then it dawned on the legendary marketing person: Wait.. no one likes to run…

Then the thought hit: “I’m legendary. I’ve got this.”

Like many legendary marketing persons of the past, they took the idea further, probably too far, in creating a landmark event for the WyoBraska area.

They knew the event had the potential to draw people from across western Nebraska to participate in the most socially awkward event of the year, all for a good cause. Unsure, skeptical, and stressed out, the marketing professional carried on, consulting cooler heads: men and women of steel resolve.

Taking a chance on the promising professional, and as luck would have it, and after many great debates, and diobolical legal discussions, a team was assembled to produce this one of a kind event. On the first day, much to their surprise and delight, they found it was a success.

Karen Gray running the United Way Color Dash 2019 Gering, NE Photo: Hawk Buckman
Karen Gray, covered in biodegradable, colored corn starch, running the United Way Color Dash 2019 Gering, NE. Photo: Hawk Buckman

So, let’s say you’re a first-time runner in this particular 5K fun-run event. What would you expect to happen? Well, it’s complicated, or could be.

After you start at the line at Five Rocks Amphitheater you start running (goals). Of course, local businesses, sponsors, and patrons will be standing on the sidelines of the route passing out goodies, snacks, and unwelcomed advice for tying, and keeping tied, your shoe strings correctly in a road race but, they also play music, thank and encourage runners to keep it up, pushing them to victory, defeat or death, whichever comes first. Don’t worry. Health care professionals are standing by for the occasional myocardial infarction.

Everyone lining the streets wants to see all the participants finish this race! We have no idea why. No. Really. You don’t win anything. It’s for charity.

You’ll find stations lining the route where you can find water and other hydrating beverages like more water. And here’s the good stuff, you may be surprised to find yourself running along, minding your own business, content, and feeling pretty fine about fulfilling your civic duty to others when poof.. you’re hit square in the face with biodegradable, non-hazardous, brightly colored, glowing neon corn starch. Marketing is so much fun…

Hey… Let’s call this event the “Color Dash”! And so it stuck and has been a mainstay event each year in western Nebraska since that legendary marketing person came up with the idea to re-shape social appearance norms, particularly in Gering, NE on, or about, June 4, of each year.

It’s the only time of the year you can walk around downtown Gering and witness the effects of social discord in a colorful, friendly, and ‘taste the rainbow’ kind of way which isn’t normally seen in Cowboy/Cowgirl country. It’s disturbing but fun!

It also has the added benefit of being the only time of year that you can openly want to spontaneously bathe a perfect stranger and not get shot.

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They did this to themselves. Gering, NE. Photo: Hawk Buckman

We don’t know why but the experience of having a perfect stranger, mostly young girls, and boys, pounding you in the face with a small cup of brightly colored corn starch just seemed like a whole lot of fun to us. So we tried it ourselves. Turns out it isn’t as bad as it sounds, and the level of self-confidence you’ll have walking around town afterward is genuinely liberating.

The run begins at Five Rocks Amphitheater in Gering, Nebraska at 8:00 am. A little early for most, but it’s for a good cause.

Set your phone, clock, PDA, Blackberry, or best animal to wake you up. They need you there even if you’re not willing to run your legs off and get hammered in the face by small children with every color of the rainbow in the form of glowing corn starch, and support a great cause for great Nebraskans.

Besides, there’s a lot of corn starch to go around for anyone willing to throw it at unsuspecting, but totally willing, participants looking to make a social statement utilizing base chemistry. You have to purchase the color (it’s so worth it) and it doesn’t cost as much as you’d think. Besides, who cares how much it costs? You get to throw it at someone!

With any luck, the next person you hit right in the mouth will look like Walt Disney threw up all over them. Yes! They get to live with that. And just think, you could be the person that makes that happen for that unsuspecting, wonderful WyoBraskain.

Civic duty, It’s a responsibility we all share.


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Cara Baumgartner taking it, asking for it, (like a pro) in the 2019 United Way Color Dash, Gering, NE. Photo: Hawk Buckman
Cara Baumgartner (left) and Karen Gray (near right) crossed the finish line at Five Rocks Amphitheater in Gering, NE. Photo: Hawk Buckman
Cara Baumgartner (left) and Karen Gray (right) tasting the rainbow finish line. Photo: Hawk Buckman


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