By Jason A. Smith
For the fifth straight year, hundreds of area residents are expected to lace up their running shoes to benefit the efforts of medical professionals in Henry County.
The Pacemaker 5000 5K Run and Walk will be held Aug. 15, at the Crystal Lake Golf & Country Club in Hampton. The event is designed to raise money for programs and services at Henry Medical Center (HMC).
Adam Stanfield, associate director of the Henry Medical Center Foundation, says the purpose of the fund-raiser is to enable HMC to "improve the patient experience and address the medical needs of the community."
"Our fund-raising efforts, in total, are designed to provide the hospital with the opportunity to purchase technologies that will help ... [in] providing enhanced services and programs," says Stanfield. "Henry County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation, and will continue to be, going forward. For us to handle the coming demand, we have to invest in our infrastructure to be able to provide the services our community is going to [need] in the future."
Stanfield says the impact on the hospital from the fund-raiser has been significant in recent years. "Last year's program grossed over $18,000 for the hospital," he says. "This year, we're expecting to raise somewhere between $20,000 and 25,000.
"Currently, we're at about $12,000 in sponsorships for this year, which is incredible," he says. "Our registrations are at about 100. Two weeks out, that's incredible. We have verbal commitments for a multitude of 10-member teams, which probably takes our registration to about 150."
In addition to a five-kilometer run, the Pacemaker 5000 will include a one-mile walk, and a Tot Trot for children, 6 and under. Local singing talent, Katie Lawhorne, is scheduled to perform during the event for the second straight year.
The final head count from last year was 400 participants, Stanfield says. However, he says he anticipates registration totals to reach 500 people this year. "We're adding a wheelchair-race category, which we are very excited about," he says. "We are working with Harlon Matthews, from Henry County Parks and Recreation, as well as ... Special Olympics and the Board of Education, to try to get as many adapted sports enthusiasts into the mix for this year's program."
While Southern Heart Specialists, a local cardiovascular group, is the presenting sponsor this year, Stanfield praises the "wide variety" of additional businesses that have pledged their support. "We have ... sponsors in the mix, including Consolidated Copiers, Higher Living Christian Church, and Crystal Lake," he says. "Recognizing that the economy is tight, and that everyone is on a budget, ... we, at the foundation, look to cultivate sponsor relationships that we are going to be able to grow over time. For that, what we do is, we work diligently to provide our sponsors marketing life with their dollars, prior to, and after, the event. We work on trying to promote the businesses through all our outlets."
Toni Stuber, food and beverage manager at Crystal Lake, says the event will enable club leaders to be more "involved" in the community, while also bringing awareness to the public of what Crystal Lake has to offer. "We can reach a whole lot more people than smaller venues [can], so this brings 400-500 people at one time that can see the country club, and helps us get the word out," says Stuber.
Jeff Bell, executive chef at Crystal Lake Grill, will prepare food for the participants to enjoy after the event. Bell, who has worked at the club for the last three months, says he is looking forward to the fund-raiser. "I was just excited to do something to reach out and help the community for a good cause," he says.
Registration will begin at 7 a.m., and the 5K race will start at 8 a.m. The cost to register is $15 in advance, and $20, the day of the race. Registration for the one-mile walk is $10 in advance, or $15, the day of the event. The Tot Trot is free for children. Teams of 10 or more can sign up for $12.50 per person.
For more details, call Adam Stanfield at (404) 643-0458, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.