If you want a hit of inspiration this April, come and see how Angela Vittori warms up before running the Rip City’s Race for the Roses. Whether you’re running, walking, or rolling in the half marathon, 10k, 5k, or Nike Made to Play kids’ 1k, Vittori’s pre-race routine is sure to surprise you, as well as entertain. “I am usually right at the start line, my eyes are fixed on the fastest and most dedicated runners waiting anxiously near the front.”
With the start time looming, the communal adrenaline surges. Vittori steps in front of a microphone as participants temporarily remove their earbuds and hats. Silence sets in. This is her cue. She exhales and begins to sing the Star-Spangled Banner. An excitable tickle crawls across the sea of participants and soon the soles of more than 2,000 running shoes are tapping the city pavement as she finishes, “O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Cheering ensues and Vittori quickly jumps in with the corral of runners and bam, she’s off.
Vittori has always loved singing and running. Her voice has become a fixture at local sporting competitions, including Portland Trail Blazers games. When Vittori moved to Portland three years ago, she was looking for local races when the Rip City Race for the Roses caught her attention. “Before I sign-up for anything, I want to know what they stand for so I can either stand with them or walk the other way,” she explains.
She soon discovered the Rip City Race for the Roses presented by UnitedHealthcare was hosted by Albertina Kerr, a local nonprofit offering children’s mental health services and a wide-range of programs and services for children, teens, and adults experiencing intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD)—causes she could truly stand behind.
In the following months, she did more than support the mission of Kerr; she ran for them, sang, volunteered, and stepped into a Program Manager role serving I/DD youth in one of Kerr’s 55 group homes.
Showing up for this life-changing work with so much dedication takes heart, and Vittori has it in spades. “These kids have really rough histories and we are trying to rewrite their stories,” she says. “Our staff is constantly working to set them up for success, whether that’s meal planning, improving coping and communication skills, or getting them signed up for music lessons. There’s no limit.”
Several of the kids in her group home also participate in Rip City Race for the Roses. “They love it,” she says. “It’s not only awesome to run through the city, but when you cross the finish, the Royal Rosarians hand you a rose and a fancy medal. And the energy is amazing with a fun after party featuring Blaze the Cat, great food, and mimosas.”
According to Vittori, when anyone signs up for this race—whether it’s to set a personal record, achieve a goal, or meet new people—there’s a ripple effect. “By participating in the Rip City Race for the Roses, you’re impacting the lives of the most vulnerable among us,” she says. “With the simple goal of helping them survive, thrive, and lead more fulfilling lives.
Don’t miss out on this Portland tradition. The 22nd Annual Rip City Race for the Roses presented by UnitedHealthcare starts at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 26. It’s a fast, accurate course across the Broadway Bridge and through downtown Portland. All proceeds benefit Albertina Kerr. Register here today, before prices increase on February 25, and use promo code "PoMoRun" for an extra 10 percent off.