Stars, Stripes & Steps event is Sept. 19

HOT SPRINGS – Challenge Dakota, the parent organization for Hot Springs first ever stair-climbing race, Stars, Stripes & Steps, faces unusual challenges in their sixth year, from blocked roads to matching grants.

The biggest challenge is meeting generous matching grant pledges from Modern Woodmen chapters in Hot Springs and Rapid City, up to $4,500, dedicated to specific project needs at Hot Springs Boys & Girls Club.

“We accepted the challenge,” said Race Director Dusty Pence, “and came up with fun additions to our usual events.”

The first addition to this year’s event, which will take place Sept. 19, is the Flip-Flop Romp, a 1 or 2-mile fun-run/walk, accessible to anyone, even in a wheelchair or stroller. While the other options involve climbing hundreds of stair-steps, the Flip-Flop Romp has zero steps and can be virtual. Participants pay $10 and receive a souvenir race bib created just for that option. 

The second addition is Shoot for the Stars, a new sponsorship opportunity. Starting at $10.00 donor’s business or personal name is listed in the race day program and on social media.

Fundraising isn’t the only challenge: The event, normally on Memorial Day, was threatened when the town shut down due to COVID-19. The date was moved, for this year only, creating logistical challenges. Then there was the devastating River Street fire that blocked access to Goddard Grind, a crucial transition point in the stair-climbing routes, and the closure of the VA campus, another key segment of the Stars routes. The Jennings Street bridge replacement added yet another issue.

“All those issues seem to be resolved,” Pence said, “thanks to the cooperation of contractors, the City and the VA, but if one or more turns out to be a problem, our runners will go with the flow and we will all have fun in pursuit of a good cause.”

Stars has grown every year in participation and funds raised for the Hot Springs Boys & Girls Club. But this year more than ever before, they need your support. The ideal ‘contribution’ is to participate in the race itself, choosing from any of three stair-climbing options. Early bird options have been extended for these events, and online, advance registration is strongly encouraged.

Organizers encourage you to support Stars, Stripes and Steps, as a participant, a volunteer, or a sponsor—remember, $10 becomes $20 with the matching grants. To learn more, including how the Modern Woodmen grants will be used, go to, or contact Pence directly at 605-890-1515; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Remember, they only need a little support from a lot of people to meet their goals.

Fall River County Herald Star

EDGEMONT OFFICE: 410 2nd Avenue   Edgemont, SD 57735-0660 | 605.662.7201
HOT SPRINGS OFFICE: 334 S. Chicago St.  Hot Springs, SD 57747 | 605.745.3930
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