So let me tell you about the Run For It event in Davis, West Virginia, last weekend.
I had never participated in The Run For It race before and had never been to the Leaf Peepers Festival, both of which happen on the last weekend of every September to coincide with the beautiful fall leaf colors that last all too briefly.
First of all, it was a beautiful day! In driving from Elkins to Davis I felt as if I was driving through a fall-colored cathedral of leaves. In Canaan Valley, where there is more horizon, you get more perspective to admire the lucious fall landscape.
I parked on a side street in Davis and headed over to the fire station where the Run For It teams were to gather. So, what is the Run For It? Started several years ago by the Tucker Community Foundation the Run For It allows nonprofits, libraries, and other civic organizations the opportunity to form teams that either run a 5k or walk a 2k race. The registration fee is $5 and half of that fee is donated back to the team you register for. You may also make a donation and 100% of that cash goes back to the team organization. The Run For It includes Randolph, Barbour, Preston, Pocahontas, Grant and Mineral counties in West Virginia, and Garrett County, Maryland.
All the teams get one minute on a platform in front of the Davis Fire Hall to make a pitch, shout a cheer, or just to show some demonstration of team spirit. This year, Team Pioneer was coordinated by our indefatiguable board president and team captain, Judy Bucher, who lead us all in a book chant of sorts. We also had big letters that spelled out "READ". We had almost 20 people registered in our team, but you aren't required to attend or run/walk if you don't want to.
I walked the 2k as fast as I could and finished in about 20 minutes. There is some up and down terrain in Davis that makes this race fun and a little challenging. However, there were many competitors and alas, I didn't place in my age class for the walk. There is always next year!
After the race, awards are given out by the TCF for most fundraising, best team effort, fastest time, and best team spirit. From what I have heard, the Run For It event has continued to grow over the years. To me it looked as if there were several hundred people participating in the run and several hundred in the walk as well. At one o'clock they announce the winners at the stage across from the fire house, and I am proud to announce that the Pioneer Memorial Public Library brought home over $10,000! Not bad for a teeny tiny library in Harman, WV, and way to go, Team Pioneer. Let's do it again next year.
After the 2k walk I helped out with the famous and delicious Rotary chicken sale. At the end of the day I came home tired and smelling of wonderful roasted chicken and charcoal. We sold 600 chicken dinners by 3pm or so!
The main purpose of the Tucker Community Foundation's Run For It event is to raise funds and awareness for your cause. I was really impressed with Team Hannah, a team of almost 200 that raises funds in memory of Hannah Friend, a girl who died much too soon. The funds they raise are for young people to go to camp, for field trips and other activities. Team Hannah wore red in honor of Hannah's favorite color and the sheer number of red shirts was impressive.
The Run For It is one of the highlights of the annual Leaf Peeper's Festival. This is a wonderful event that included arts and crafts for sale in the Davis Fire Hall. There were a few dozen vendors selling things like homemade jewelry, wood carvings, paintings, honey, ramp salt, candles, and much more. There were more vendors in the parking lot across from the fire station as well.
The local library, the aptly-named Mountaintop Library had a most excellent book sale with literally hundreds of books that were extremely well organized. I had to resist buying books. Must resist buying books. :-)
The stage across from the fire hall provided a focal point for musical entertainment throughout the day and there were some great performers. There were kids and adults clogging as part of the Mountain State Cloggers, there was an old-time jazz band, and Appalachian Glass demonstrating glassblowing. Several excellent bands performed including the Sugar Foot Stompers, Mason Dixon, and Young Funk Sung. A beer garden was set up to sell local beer of the Mountain State Brewing Company.
There were fun activities for kids too. A bungee ride was set up whereby a couple of kids at a time could jump on a trampouline and bounce really high by being attached to a bungee cord harness. There was also a bouncy room, face painting, and other kid friendly activities.
For me, the best part of the day was watching the interesting people and their dogs! I saw whippets, an Airedale terrier, chihuahuas, golden labs, chocolate labs, a bassett hound, a pit bull or two, and lots of really sweet mutts.
I also had the pleasure of meeting some of the Tucker Community Foundation staff and board members. They told me that the TCF was formed after the devastating 1985 flood as a way to help communities invest in their own philanthropic organizations. What a great way to literally reinvest and rebuild communities after a tragedy. Today, nonprofits are encouraged to build an investment with TCF that earns annual interest.
You can read more about the Run For It here and you can check out the Tucker Community Foundation here. And as always, don't forget to stop by the Pioneer Memorial Public Library in Harman, WV, when you are in our neck of the woods. And maybe I will see you next year at the Run For It and the Leaf Peepers Festival, I know I will be back.