Footraces collide on calendar, raise funds for organizations

Friday, Jan. 25, 2013 5:24 PM
Last updated Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 2:23 AM
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As Augusta gets ready to run, fundraising footraces are colliding on the calendar.

When Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church began planning its Reid on the Run, the race committee knew to avoid conflicts with the biggest races of the year, such as the Broad Street Ramble and the Heart and Sole 5K.

The panel settled on next Saturday because finding a weekend without another race was almost impossible, said Joy Weigle, Reid’s director of Christian education.

Next Saturday, Feb. 2, is also the Panther 5K Run and Walk, sponsored by Lakeside High School’s cross country team, and the Run for the World 5K to support mission work at Redeemer Church in Evans.

With a host of fundraising walks and runs each year, avoiding schedule conflicts is difficult; still, organizers say overlaps aren’t detrimental to fundraising totals.

“You won’t find a week where there isn’t something always going on,” said Carrie Brooks, Lakeside’s assistant cross country coach. “Sometimes it can be frustrating. We try to support each other.”

Now in its second year, Reid on the Run also needed a date that worked for its benefactor – the Augusta Warrior Project, Weigle said. The race raised $11,000 last year for Press On to Cure Childhood Cancer and is on track to raise about $15,000 this year.

“We didn’t want to overlap with other race,s but at least it’s in another county,” she said.

Brooks said she’s uncertain how the busy race calendar will affect sign-ups, but the Panther Run needs at least 100 participants to meet its minimal goal to benefit a scholarship fund. The group is aiming for 200 runners.

Michael Nilsen, a spokesman for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, said the popularity of athletic events has grown in the past two decades. Individuals desire to be more involved in the charity they
contribute to, he said.

“People want to do more for charity than simply write the check and move on,” Nilsen said.

Planning an athletic fundraising event is not the easiest or least expensive method, but special events build awareness for the charity, he said.

Mary Ann Navarro, the president of the CSRA Parkinson’s Support Group, said the Augusta area needs a coordinated system for scheduling fundraising events, possibly organized by the United Way. After its fundraising walk overlapped with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s for several years on the first Saturday in November, the Parkinson’s group changed weeks last year – only to bump into University Hospital’s Miracle Mile Walk to support breast cancer, one of Augusta’s largest fundraising walks.

The group explored other fundraising methods, such as a golf tournament or a gala, she said. The overlap with the Alzheimer’s group caused a lower turnout for the Parkinson’s walk, but Navarro said people still donated to the cause. In 2012, $37,000 was raised.

“There’s always a conflict,” Navarro said. “There’s so much going on in Augusta to find a weekend where nothing’s happening.”

Brooks, the Panther Run committee member, said they haven’t considered other options despite the conflicts. A 5K makes the most sense for a cross country team fundraiser, she said.

A scheduling system for the area would be a good idea, Brooks said. She didn’t know about the two other races for Saturday until two weeks ago.

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