As I reflect on the past couple years, one particular experience stands out in my mind—a journey filled with sweat, smiles and a profound sense of purpose. Little did I know that this race would become a catalyst for change, both in my life and in our tight-knit community. Lace up your running shoes, join me on this remarkable journey and discover the profound impact of volunteering for a 5K event with a purpose.
The story begins with the Blueberry Festival, a beloved tradition in Bacon County, Georgia for nearly five decades. About two decades ago, the festival introduced a 5K race, which was initially organized by the local hospital system. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the hospital stopped hosting the event. That’s when our volunteer journey began. My husband, known for taking on many responsibilities, stepped forward to organize the run on behalf of our church, New City Church Alma.
Fast forward to today, and we’ve just completed our second year of hosting the race, with preparations for the third already underway.
Responsibilities as a Volunteer
Organizing a 5K event is no small feat. Many volunteers including myself, along with the New City Church’s Outreach committee, took on various responsibilities. These included improving the race each year, raising funds for the event (which generated over $5,000 last year, with 10% donated to local First Responders), managing the registration table, setting up water stations along the race route, ensuring snacks for runners at the finish line and securing prizes for the winners.
One of the most memorable moments I had was being able to run the race during the first year of hosting. The sense of accomplishment and participation in both organizing and running the race was truly amazing. In the second year, while pregnant, I enjoyed watching my husband compete in the First Responders run, where he came in second and represented the fire department admirably.
The journey of hosting the 5K event also involved significant personal growth. The first year was a learning curve, with my husband handling multiple responsibilities alone. In the second year, we formed a team to share the workload, leading to a smoother event and allowing us to enjoy the festival with friends and family. Meeting the racers and sponsors who appreciated our efforts was truly motivating and heartwarming.
Encouragement to Others
I wholeheartedly encourage others to volunteer for similar events. I believe that organizing such events not only benefits the community but also teaches valuable life skills, such as teamwork, stepping out of one’s comfort zone and the importance of perseverance. It’s the start of something new, impactful and rewarding.
Lessons Learned and Future Plans
Reflecting on my experience, I wouldn’t necessarily do anything differently but see it as a learning process. We plan to make the race a ‘Peachtree Qualifier’ race, enabling participants to earn points for bigger races in Atlanta. Additionally, the church is considering adding a race for utility linemen (Pike Electric vs Georgia Power vs Satilla REMC) to honor those who provide households with electricity.
In conclusion, volunteering for a 5K event with your church can be a life-changing experience. It not only serves a noble cause but also strengthens community bonds, deepens your connection with faith and teaches invaluable life lessons. So, if you’re considering volunteering for such an event, remember to embrace the journey, learn from your experiences and do it all for the glory of a higher purpose.
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