Schools embrace 5Ks as healthy fundraising alternative
by Heather Baggett
Runners and walkers from Talladega County and other parts of East Central Alabama participated in Alabama School for the Blind’s Redskin 5K last year. This year’s event will take place March 16 in Talladega.

Move over candy companies, there’s a new – healthy – fundraising venture many area groups, organizations and schools are using to fund various projects and promote lifestyle changes in area residents.

For years, students have sold candy, cookie dough and other treats as fundraisers for school clubs and organizations. Several schools in the area are encouraging locals to dial back their sweet tooth, lace up their running shoes and participate in a 5K run/walk. These run/walk events will take place at three area schools in February and March, with proceeds benefiting school programs and/or sports teams.


Munford High School’s softball team’s Valentine’s Day 5K will be held Feb. 16, with the run beginning at 9 a.m. at the MHS football field.

MHS softball coach Darrell Smith said he got interested in 5K runs a few years ago.

“About four years ago, I was asked by a friend of mine to join a team to run in the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure in Birmingham, which benefited breast cancer awareness,” Smith said. “I went to this event and was amazed by the turnout they had and was really touched by all the people who were, some way or another, affected by breast cancer. Even though they had this obstacle in their life, they were excited to get out and run.

“Since that time, I have participated in several 5Ks and really enjoy watching people challenge themselves to finish the race and compete.”

This will be the second year that the Lady Lions have hosted this event. Smith said approximately 75 people participated in last year’s 5K.

“At our first annual event last year, the Lady Lions Booster Club worked in conjunction with Dionne Clark of the Munford Recreation Board to organize the race for us,” he said. “Mrs. Clark, who participates in several 5Ks did an outstanding job of pointing us in the right direction and helping us plan a course for the race, and working out all the small details that go into a race. I just thought you showed up, tied your shoes and took off running. But I quickly learned there’s a lot of work that goes into a race.”

This year, the softball program is partnering with J. Morgan Events to put on this year’s race. Registration costs $15 or $12 for Anniston Runners Club members. Awards will be given for the top three male and female overall winners as well as the top three finishers in each age group. In honor of the holiday, there will also be a “Cupid Couples” division. “We’d like to welcome our friends from the Talladega, Oxford, Anniston and Pell City areas to join us next weekend,” Smith said. “Please go to for more details and registration information.”


Once participants have run off the calories from their sweet treats from Valentine’s Day, they can keep the momentum by preparing for Lincoln Elementary School’s Bear Cub 5K, which will take place March 9. This marks the first time LES has hosted a 3.1-mile run/walk event. LES Principal Donna Hudson said the event will benefit all programs at the school, but she hopes the fundraiser also benefits the community, instilling an interest in a healthy lifestyle.

“In addition to being a fundraiser, this is an opportunity for our children, their families and our entire community to be involved in a fun and healthy activity,” she said. “At LES, we promote healthy living and an active lifestyle, so to host a 5K is a good fit for our school.”

As part of the school’s commitment to healthy living, more than 150 students now participate in the school’s running club. The club is in its second year of existence and has more than doubled its participation from the first year. In addition to the students participating, Hudson said many of the teachers have been inspired to start running or walking as well.

“Last year we had seven students log at least 25 miles at school and finish the last mile at the Mercedes Marathon (in Birmingham),” Hudson said. “This year we have 12 students who will be participating at the Mercedes Marathon. The sponsor of our Running Club, Allison Miles, is an avid runner who competes in 5K, 10K and marathon runs. She has inspired a love of running and walking in a lot of our children and teachers.

“I, along with some teacher friends, walk in several 5Ks each year, while my grandson runs them. Since we are a Health and Wellness School, we felt that it would be a good opportunity to get even more of our school family involved in a lifetime sport.”

Registration is $15 or $10 for LES faculty and students or $50 for five-member teams. There will also be a $2 discount for Anniston Runners Club and Lincoln Runners Club members. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place in each age group and T-shirts will be provided to the first 200 pre-registered participants.

The race begins and ends at Lincoln High School’s football stadium. It is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. March 9. A 1-mile fun run will begin once the 5K has concluded.

“It (the course) is relatively flat, with a few inclines, or smaller hills,” Hudson said. “It will be a nice course for first time participants to walk or run, as well as a good course for avid runners to post fast times.

“Registration forms can be found online at,, or can be picked up at the school,” Hudson said.

For more information, call LES at 256-315-5265.


Just a week after the Bear Cub 5K in Lincoln, Alabama School for the Blind will host the third annual Redskin 5K run March 16 at 8 a.m.

ASB faculty members Valerie Burrage and Troy Haynes started a running club at the school a few years ago as a way “to get our students involved in the community and to make our community more aware of sensory impaired individuals,” according to Burrage.

“We decided we would start a runners club to give students an opportunity to become more active and be a part of a group that would support each other,” Burrage said. “The 5K fundraiser allows us to take runners to area events and for others to see our visually impaired students participating in physical activity just like his or her peers.”

The funds raised in the previous events have allowed Burrage and Haynes to take the runners to events like VisionWalk in Birmingham, a walk/run sponsored by the Foundation Fighting Blindness, and the Anniston Lion’s 5K for Sight run. Burrage said proceeds from the Redskin 5K has also allowed them to purchase new track uniforms for the boys and girls. This year, Burrage and Haynes “are taking five visually impaired runner’s club participants to run the Mercedes Relay in Birmingham.” Burrage said she and Haynes will serve as guide runners for the group.

“The greatest benefit of the Redskin Run is our students are interacting with fellow runners/peers and it allows the community to see what visually impaired individuals can do,” Burrage said.

The run begins and ends on the campus of ASB and proceeds through parts of the historic silk stocking district in Talladega. Burrage said the course is mostly flat, with two small hills or inclines.

There is still time for businesses and organizations to support this event by becoming a sponsor and volunteers are needed to encourage runners, hand out water and give course directions on race day.

Burrage said “a special thanks to the Talladega Police Department and the Talladega Volunteer Rescue Squad for directing traffic.” She also said she was thankful for the “community supporting the Redskin 5K and the businesses for being a corporate sponsor.”

Burrage said 248 runners participated last year and she hopes to see that number increase this year. Mereithi Turner holds the course record with a time of 20:46.42. The female course record is held by Haley Long with a time of 21:09.14.

Registration is $15 if registered by March 1. Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind employees and students, as well as Anniston Runners Club members can register for $12. Registration fees on race day are $25.

For more information, contact Burrage or Haynes at 256-493-8414 or 256-310-3041.

Contact Heather Baggett at

© 2013