NEO hosts ‘Lights On After School’ (VIDEO), sponsors 2nd annual Run & Walk Challenge at Empire Mine Saturday |

NEO hosts ‘Lights On After School’ (VIDEO), sponsors 2nd annual Run & Walk Challenge at Empire Mine Saturday

A pair of NEO volunteers warm up for their ukulele and singing performance Thursday night during “Lights On After School”, a fundraiser event hosted at NEO’s Joerschke Drive youth center in Grass Valley. The event was one of many such parties hosted across the nation to raise awareness and funding support for after-school programs.
Submitted photo by Jessica Burgess |

Know & Go

What: NEO Empire Challenge

When: Race starts at 8 a.m., registration starts at 7 a.m.

Where: Empire Mine State Historic Park

11797 East Empire St., Grass Valley

For more information, go to:

NEO challenges youth and all interested community members to an interactive Run & Walk at Empire Mine State Historic Park on Saturday.

This is the second challenge NEO Empire Challenge hosted by NEO. NEO is a nonprofit based in Grass Valley that strives to help young people in the community make healthy choices through “positive alternative activities.”

“We just think it’s a great fundraiser,” said Lynn Skrukrud, co-founder and co-director of NEO. “It’s a good way to get people active.”

The event deviates from traditional run and walk races because it includes fun activities and employs the assistance of young volunteers.

The event features a 4-mile running course and a 2-mile walking course.

According to the organization, the running course will be “a challenging uphill course” unlike any other trails in the park. The walking trail is “slightly uphill” but is suitable for everyone.

Runners 18 and older will pay $25. Walkers and runners younger than 18 will only pay $15. The event is free for children 5 and younger.

No dogs or strollers are allowed on the running course, although strollers are allowed on the walking course.

Skrukrud said online registration for the event closed on Wednesday, but interested participants can still sign up at 7 a.m. Saturday.

The event benefits the Youth Center, which was launched by NEO in March.

The Youth Center is essentially a free drop-in center for youth aged 11-18. Youngsters who come to the center can enjoy the pool table, ping pong, foosball, craft, musical instruments, homework area and wifi. The center also hosts free workshops and dances or concerts on weekends.

The money raised by the NEO Empire Challenge will be used for the expansion of the programs at the center, said Skrukrud. She said the organizers are still working to add more services.

The center serves about 15-45 youth per day.

More than 90 participants descended at the Empire Park during the first annual NEO Empire Challenge. But the organizers at the nonprofit are confident that there will be more people this year.

“We are expecting a big turnout,” said Skrukrud.

To contact Staff Writer Teresa Yinmeng Liu, please contact 530-477-4236 or

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