The United Fund of Surry’s annual fundraising campaign kicked off in impressive fashion on Saturday.
Saturday morning 237 runners, one more than in 2016, hit the streets of Mount Airy to take part in the United Fund’s Downtown Rocks and Runs event.
Merry Craig Boaz, executive director of the United Fund, said runners had what some might consider a special treat at this year’s Rocks and Runs. Her organization commemorated the race’s 10th year by adding a 10k event. In the past only a 5k was held.
For the past decade, the race has served as the kickoff event for the annual charity campaign. The United Fund reached its fundraising goal of $450,000 in 2015 and 2016.
Boaz noted her organization upped its expectations in 2017, however, setting a goal of $475,000.
Boaz said those funds are distributed to 26 member agencies, which include local food banks, the homeless shelter and number of area rescue squads. Many of those organizations sent volunteers to work the event on Saturday, performing roles such as handing out water to runners and controlling traffic.
With $125 cash prizes for the male and female winners of each race, Boaz mentioned the race attracted runners from as far away as California, Ohio and Indiana.
The $500, which made the cash prizes possible, was donated by Advanced Electronic Services, a company based on Riverside Drive in Mount Airy.
However, support for the event didn’t stop there. Boaz said about $17,000 in sponsorship dollars for the event was collected. With costs related to the event set at only a few thousand dollars (offset by the registration fees of the participants), Boaz expected the proceeds of Saturday’s event to surpass what was raised the year prior, about $18,000.
“We are very greatful for all of the support,” said Boaz. “This has been a great kickoff for our campaign.”
Though the most visible portion of Saturday’s event for Mount Airy-area residents took place on the streets of the city, Rocks and Runs also included a “rocks” event, too.
While runners were invited to attend a concert at Old North State Winery after the race in past year’s, this year Boaz decided to team with another organization to provide the music part of Saturday’s fundraiser.
Those who participated in the races received a $5 discount on a ticket to Reevesfest, a music festival which took place in Elkin on Saturday. Six bands were scheduled to play at the event.
“We thought it was a great way to involve the Elkin community,” explained Boaz.
While Saturday’s race may have been a nice start, the United Fund will have a long road to $475,000, and Dr. Amy DeVore and Julie Marion are chairing the campaign and leading the efforts to get there this year.
Both ran in Saturday’s race.
“It was wonderful,” said DeVore, who noted she believes the campaign is off to a great start.
“I’m really hopeful we will meet our goal,” she said. “I’m excited to see what the year will bring.”
“This town has always shown a lot of support for these organizations.”
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.