The Denver Gorilla Run is good example of how a wacky fun run contributes to a good cause.
On Oct. 26, Lower Downtown Denver will be invaded by gorillas. OK, not really, but more than 1,500 runners, walkers and bicyclists dressed in gorilla costumes are expected to participate in the 10th annual Denver Gorilla Run 5K.
It’s for a good cause, but it begs an obvious question: how is it that so many runners will have a gorilla suit?
Included with the $100 entry fee, participants will receive a gorilla costume to keep. The pre-Halloween event is attempting to set a Guinness World Record for “most individuals dressed as gorillas in one location” while raising money for the Denver-based Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund (MGCF), a non-profit organization that provides veterinary services to highly endangered Mountain Gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The organization was founded by Ruth Morris Keesling, after the late Dr. Dian Fossey asked for help back in 1983. Fossey, who was murdered in 1985, was the central figure in the 1988 movie “Gorillas in the Mist.”
In 1986, the MGCF built the world’s first “on-location” veterinary center in Rwanda for the protection of endangered animals. At the time there were only 248 Mountain Gorillas left in the world, says Gorilla Run race director Frank Keesling, who is vice president of MGCF. Thanks to help from the MGCF and its partnerships, there are now approximately 880 alive in the wild today, he reports.
The fundraising success from the Denver Gorilla Run helped build the new Ruth Keesling Wildlife Health and Research Center, which opened on Oct. 5 in Kampala, Uganda. The new facility tripled the size of MGCF’s current wildlife veterinary education department, Keesling says.