Sunday’s Nebraska Football Road Race marked the fifth and final time Bo Kitrell will participate in the fundraiser to fight pediatric brain cancer.
At least, it’s his last time as a Husker.
Chances are, Kitrell, from Ashland, will return to the event, which is growing in popularity each year, and find Allen, his running buddy.
“Last year I ran with him, and his dad actually Tweeted me, and he had bought my jersey, which is pretty cool,” Kitrell said. “And (Allen) came up to me and had my jersey on, so I ran with him this year, too.
“It’s cool to see those relationships form with those kids over the years.”
Kitrell, by the way, wears No. 30, a legendary number for Nebraska football, worn by Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier and Kitrell’s “favorite player of all-time,” Ahman Green, who also played for Kitrell’s favorite NFL team, Green Bay.
“I just came in, and that’s what jersey they gave me,” Kitrell said. “There’s a lot of pressure, but it’s an honor to wear such an historic number.”
Each Nebraska football player who ran the mile-long Fun Run paired with a child. Combined with the 5K race that followed, a record 840 runners competed in the sixth annual event that began and ended outside Memorial Stadium.
“It’s such a great cause,” Kitrell said. “There’s nothing more fulfilling than running for a great cause and running for kids who have to fight every day. We have to fight for 7 minutes for a mile, or 6 minutes, or whatever, but those kids have to fight their entire lives. It’s kind of an inspiration.”
Kitrell has also volunteered his time with the Lincoln Marathon, School is Cool, City Impact, American Education Week, FCA and local hospital visits. He participated in the Nebraska Life Skills Service Trip Abroad to Bocas del Toro, Panama, in May. A civil engineering major, he carries a 3.91 GPA.
Football players gathered at the finish line to high-five runners as they crossed the finish line. Participants in both races ranged from toddlers to retired men and women, and everyone in between –some running, some walking, others competing in wheelchairs, scooters or pushing strollers. Many wore T-Shirts that recognized the names of those children who have battle brain cancer, including some in memory.
Everybody who participated in Sunday’s races will receive an invitation to attend a Husker football fall camp practice or scrimmage, an incentive to sign up early for the race. Fall camp begins Aug. 3.
“I’m so excited,” Kitrell said. “It’s going to be a fun year. I’m so happy my last year is going to be with Coach (Scott) Frost.”
Kitrell said he’s lost 20 pounds, shredded fat and gained muscle in the offseason, as he aims to play in a game for the first time in his career.
“It’s been very, very tough,” he said of offseason conditioning. “It’s been very challenging, but in a good way. You can tell the coaches care about making us better, making us the best possible team that we can possibly have. I’m optimistic about this year, just because of the work we put in during the offseason.”
Kitrell has bounced between tight end and fullback and is now working at running back and on special teams, where he believes he stands the best chance of finding a niche to see the field for the first time.
“I think so,” Kitrell said. “That’s the goal for this season, is to find a real big niche on there. Special teams is so important to the game, that any chance to get on the field and make a difference for this team is what I’m going to try to do.”