Color run to benefit Helping Hands Foundation

By Jessica Johnson

March 19, 2014

On March 29 people will be running, walking, and jogging through Riverside Park and the streets of Mount Airy, covered in rainbows of color, all to raise money for a local charity — Helping Hands Foundation of Surry County.

Color Runs have become one of the most popular themed 5k runs in recent years, and Helping Hands Founder Nicholas Cooke hopes this color run will become a tradition for the non-profit organization.

The Helping Hands Foundation assists families in the area who are struggling to provide for themselves. The foundation provides food, toiletries, clothes, toys, utility bill assistance, and more for families in need.

A new effort, the Helping Hands Outreach Program, will allow non-profit organizations to apply for funding and supplies, which will allow the organizations to focus on assisting people in their times of need rather than spend a lot of time on fundraisers.

The first annual 5k Color Run/Walk will start at Riverside Park in Mount Airy, at 350 Riverside Drive, with registration at 8 a.m., a kids fun color run at 8:45 a.m. and the 5k run/walk starting at 9 a.m. Awards will immediately follow the 5k.

The 5k is 3.1 miles and is for participants of all ages. Everyone is welcome to walk, job, run, sprint, skip, or use any method to cross the finish line.

Cooke suggested that participants wear white and by the time they finish they will be covered from head to toe in bright colors. Those who register early will receive a Helping Hands Foundation Color Run t-shirt in white.

“I wanted to do something different as a fund raiser. We have a lot of 5k races in this area, but people area always looking for something different. With the color run, it is more of a family-oriented activity, and it fits in with the logo for the Helping Hands Foundation, which features a circle of handprints, each in a different color. The colors we chose for the color run match the colors in our logo,” Cooke said.

Each participant will receive one packet of color and additional packets of color will also be available for purchase for participants to throw. Four color stations will be set up along the race route, with each station featuring a different color. Volunteers will throw the color at race participants as they run/walk by. Color used for the run is made from cornstarch dyed with a non-toxic color.

Participants who register before March 29 pay $25 and those who register on race day pay $30. Children who would like to participate in the 5k who are under the age of 5 are free of charge, but must register if participating. The kids’ fun run registration fee is $10 before March 29, and $15 on the day of the race.

Refreshments will be provided on race day to all participates, free of charge.

Awards will go to first, second, and third place overall male and female winners, as well as awards for the following categories: age nine and under, ten to 14 years of age, 15 to 19 years of age, 20 to 29 years of age, 30 to 39 years of age, 40 to 49 years of age, 50 to 59 years of age, and 60 plus.

A bonus for those who register early are special packets, with pick-ups are held at AES Inc., located at 101 Technology Lane, off of Riverside Drive on March 24 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Packets include sponsor gifts, future race brochures, an individual pack of color, a bib number, and more. Special bags are also available for kids who register early.

Sunglasses will be available for purchase on the day of the race to keep the color out of participants’ eyes, and participants are welcome to wear goggles or their own sunglasses.

The Helping Hands Foundation Color Run/Walk course will begin at Riverside Park, on the Ararat River Greenway Trail, and will travel through Mount Airy, ending at Riverside Park.

AES Employee Relations Director Nicholas Cooke founded Helping Hands Outreach in 2011, after he realized that families in this area are forced to choose between paying their light bill or feeding their children, and others must make difficult decisions such as choosing between laundry detergent or bath soap, because they cannot afford both.

Donations for Helping Hands Foundation are accepted, such as clothes, shoes, toys, non-perishable food items, body soap, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent and fabric softener, toothbrushes and toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, and monetary donations. Volunteers are also welcome and a few volunteers are still needed for race day.

For more information about the Helping Hands Foundation, visit, email, call 336-648-7727, like their Facebook page, and/or follow them on Twitter @handsofsurry. Donations may be made to the foundation on their webpage.

Reach Jessica Johnson at 719-1933 and on Twitter @MountAiryJess.