Guthrie run honors brother, raises awareness for animal rights 

Matt Goodwin poses for a photo in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 6, 2015. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Matt Goodwin poses for a photo in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 6, 2015.

Chris Cowden’s job regularly took him to the rural parts of Oklahoma, where, quite often, he would encounter a four-legged friend in need of help. He would give it a ride back to town and get to work finding it a good home.

“Chris had many friends and relatives, so it wasn’t unusual for any of us to be the recipient of a new pet,” said his older brother Matt. “He was very persuasive. He just couldn’t stand to see an animal suffer.”

Cowden was an avid jogger and routinely hit the streets of downtown Guthrie, his hometown. One day in May 2008, he went out for a ride on his motorcycle and was involved in a fatal crash. He died instantly upon impact.

Matt and his sisters Teri and Suzanne spent the next several weeks consoling each other and grieving for their brother. Then they channeled that grief into something positive, a way to honor his memory.

The idea they came up with was The See Spot Run 5k, 10k and kid’s fun run event that benefits Edmond’s Free to Live animal sanctuary.

“We knew Chris loved to run and he loved animals, so this made perfect sense,” said Matt. “The run follows the actual route through Guthrie that Chris used to jog. Since we started, more than 3,000 runners from across Oklahoma have participated and we have raised more than $40,000 for Free to Live.”

The 7th Annual See Spot Run will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday.

“We changed the time to an evening run to enhance the celebratory aspect at the finish line,” Matt said.  “Food and drink will be available, and everyone is welcome. This is our way of honoring our brother’s memory and also increasing awareness about animal rights.”

The run’s beneficiary, Free to Live, was established in 1984 and is Oklahoma’s largest no-kill facility.

“We provide refuge to abused and abandoned animals,” said Matt Goodwin, Free to Live’s executive director. “Right now, we have over 300 dogs and cats in our facility. We work to get them healthy and then try to find them a safe, loving home.”

Donations from events like The See Spot Run are critical to keeping the sanctuary operating, and Goodwin says every dollar is put to good use.

“Just like health care for humans, health care costs for animals continue to rise,” he said. “We do as much preventative care as we can and always spay and neuter each animal.”

He added that all the funds received go to food, cleaning supplies and veterinarian costs.

“We have a small staff that feeds and cares for the animals,” Goodwin said, “and then we also have volunteers who will come in and play with them and keep them company.”

The See Spot Run

5 p.m. Saturday



Print headline: Live free, An annual run benefits animals in Guthrie and honors the memory of a resident.

Clarification: The photo in this story is of Matt Goodwin from Edmond's Free to Live animal sanctuary. He was misidentified as Matt Cowden in the May 13 issue of Oklahoma Gazette.

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