Every year Rotary Club of Ojai sponsors the Ojai Fourth of July Freedom Run, an event where every kid is a winner.  An hour before the Ojai July 4th parade starts, children ages 2 to 12 line up at the Post Office tower and run a loop down Ojai Avenue.
Rotarian Drs. Bob Skankey and Fred Fauvre started the event 27 years ago to encourage youth fitness.  As in past years, Fred and his loyal volunteers, including his daughter, Rotarian Renee Halbrook, arrived early July 4th to blow up helium balloons for an arch across Ojai Avenue, register eager participants, and organize fun warm-up exercises using a parachute.  Once kids (sometimes accompanied by supportive parents) were lined up at the starting line, Rotary Club of Ojai President Marty Babayco started the race.
  Some kids were experienced runners, and for some it was an accomplishment just to complete the half-mile or one-mile race, especially if they were preschoolers.  Each participant got cheered across the finish line and was given a ribbon and a bottle of water at the end.  About 50 kids participated, and it was a real feel-good smalltown event.  The kids felt good about themselves, and parents appreciated having something like this for their kids.
  Thanks to Fred Fauvre for his longtime leadership, and to Renee Halbrook for enriching the community with the July 4th Freedom Run!