5K run/walk to support Kellen Knutson set for April 29

A 5K run/walk will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 29, at Paul Bunyan Park to support Kellen Knutson, a Bemidji Middle School student who has been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis.

Miles of Smiles for Kellen web.jpg

BEMIDJI — The Bemidji community is invited to come out and raise public support for a local family that is going through a difficult time.

According to a release, Phil and Heather Knutson’s older child, Kellen, a Bemidji Middle School student, has been at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis since early April and has been diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, a one-in-a-million diagnosis.

A 5K run/walk will be held beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 29, starting at Paul Bunyan Park. The community is invited to take part in person or virtually, at wherever is most convenient. In case of inclement weather, it will move to an all-virtual event.

"The Knutsons are very active in the endurance community, so local supporters and friends decided a 5K event was the perfect fit," the release said. "Heather, a dietitian at the Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer Center, is a repeat marathoner while Phil is the race director of the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon. Kellen himself is a competitive swimmer and runner who is active in robotics at BMS. His younger sibling is a third-grader at Horace May Elementary."

The theme of the event is Miles of Smiles for Kellen and the intention is compassion, not competition. The event will not be timed and all are welcome to participate in any way they can, the release said.


"The family is enthusiastic about Disney, Star Wars, and veganism; anyone interested in taking part in costumes or apparel with nods to these themes is welcome to do so," the release added. Photos will be collected for the “Miles of Smiles for Kellen” Facebook page.

There is no registration fee and no cost to participate. Anyone interested in donating may do so at

Kellen’s close friend is also distributing blue bracelets, which will be available at the run/walk that say “KsforKellen” in exchange for donations to the family.

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