Thousands of people, as well as a few cows and goats, will gather for the second annual Kickin’ It With the Cows Run/Walk in De Pere, Wisconsin, on July 7. The event, organized by the Dairy Cares of Wisconsin group, benefits critically ill children in the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

As a hospital that provides first-rate care to its young patients, the De Pere dairy community recognized the need for support, both financially and emotionally. The inaugural Kickin’ It With the Cows run and walk, held last year, raised over $15,000 for the hospital.

Money raised by the event helps physicians and doctors continue to provide exceptional care to their patients, ranging from premature babies to young adults.

Denise Hajos is an associate development officer at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. She says this event helps the hospital achieve its vision of having the healthiest kids in the nation and gets the whole community involved.

“If you haven’t had a child treated at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin or one of our clinics, you are either related to someone who has, or you know someone who has been treated,” Hajos says. “You’re basically helping your neighbor through this event.”


The race, which is a 10K for runners and 1 mile for walkers, draws people from all over the country who want to support families as they face medical crises. However, it serves an even deeper purpose to the group of local dairy farmers, supporters and promoters who spearhead the event and volunteer behind the scenes.

To them, this goodwill effort provides a forum to educate the community on where their food comes from and puts a friendly face to the farms in one of the most dairy-dense regions of the state.

Michael Kuehl is the event coordinator for Kickin’ It With the Cows. “We’re really trying to give back to the communities we come from,” he says. “This way, consumers understand where their food is coming from and feel closer to those producing it, all while giving to a good cause.”

Runners and walkers alike enjoy the race for the fellowship it fosters, not to mention the finish line perks. Many people find their favorite parts of the race are the dairy cows and goats waiting for them at the end, where there are photo opportunities with the animals.

“You could say they’re ‘mooing’ people on at the finish line,” Kuehl says.

These dairy cows and goats are usually brought in from Milk Source and LaClare Family Farms as a way to raise awareness for both sectors of the dairy industry. And of course, race finishers enjoy plenty of complimentary dairy products.

Dairy Cares strives to increase awareness within Children’s Hospital of the benefits dairy products have in human nutrition. When the dairy industry reached out to the medical community in order to support children’s health, it created the perfect environment for parents, patients and families to learn about the health benefits of dairy products.

“Who better to focus on than pediatricians who have such a wide reach?” Kuehl says. Dairy nutrition messaging is part of the event, accompanied by milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream.

However, those who participate in running, walking, sponsoring and volunteering stand to take home much more than a medal, T-shirt and full belly. A strong sense of satisfaction is tied to giving back to the community in this way, through the creation of a healthy work environment for those involved with local dairy-related businesses.

Samantha Petersen of grocery chain Skogen’s Festival Foods says Kickin It With the Cows is a perfect event for employees to get involved locally and give back to their neighbors.

“The case is there, and it’s just the right thing to do,” she says, noting that she and at least 10 people from the company participated last year. Petersen plans to run alongside family members in July.

In a growing technological age, Kuehl says social responsibilities are huge for businesses to consider when thinking about their employees. Dairy Cares of Wisconsin provides a way for dairy employees to get involved in their local towns and feel more content in their career. Kuehl says he hopes this connects farmers and consumers in a way that benefits both parties.

“We want everyone to know that the dairy industry is really focused on the community,” he says.

For those who wish to participate in the run, the cost is $20 for children under 12, $30 for age 12 and over, and $25 per person for groups of three or more people. Children who are in strollers are not required to register, although they will not receive a T-shirt. Dogs are also welcome to run on a leash. Families of patients and patients themselves will get a discount to participate.

Participants will receive a T-shirt and a drawstring bag, as well as free chocolate milk, Scray’s Cheese Curds, ice cream and Yodelay Yogurt. There will also be face painting, balloon animals, team mascots, Captain America, Wonder Woman, a playground and a performance by the University of Wisconsin marching band.  end mark

PHOTO: The Kickin’ It With the Cows run/walk provides opportunities for participants of all ages to get moving for a good cause while learning about the local dairy community. Funds raised support the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of Kickin’ It With the Cows.

Learn more about Kick’n It With the Cows, including how to participate yourself. 

Katlyn Uhart is a agricultural communications student at Utah State University

You can ‘kick it with the cows’ – virtually!

Kick it with the cows, wherever you are. Runners can register for the virtual run. Any time between now and June 30, run or walk your choice of a 5K or 10K where and when you want.

Record your time, distance and the date of your run with a photo or screenshot of your treadmill, smartwatch or variety of online applications (RunKeeper, Map My Run, etc.).

Send records to Virtual Run emial. Virtual participants receive a T-shirt and a customized spinner medal. For more information, visit Kick'n it With the Cows.