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Race With Your Heart

If you like multitasking, the Big Hammock Race Series—Season 2, presented by Prime Mortgage Group, is perfect for you. Not only do the race events, which are open to runners and walkers of all ages, provide a great opportunity to be physically active, but all raise funds for numerous charitable causes.

By JoAnn Guidry - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

If you like multitasking, the Big Hammock Race Series—Season 2, presented by Prime Mortgage Group, is perfect for you. Not only do the race events, which are open to runners and walkers of all ages, provide a great opportunity to be physically active, but all raise funds for numerous charitable causes. By JoAnn Guidry

Charitable organizations that have benefited from Big Hammock Race Series races include: The Cornerstone School’s Tuition Assistance Program; United Way of Marion County’s ReadingPals program and health programs; the YMCA scholarship fund; Boys and Girls Club of Marion County; Young Life of Marion County; youth running programs and scholarships; National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) Florida and NAMI Marion County; Veterans Memorial Park; and the American Cancer Society’s We Can Weekend.

“Participating in the BHRS is a great way to improve your physical fitness and give back to the community at the same time,” says Karen Donnelly, co-founder of the series. “Both are good for the heart.”

It was concern about Ocala/Marion County’s poor health statistics that inspired Donnelly and co-founder Tina Banner, both avid runners, to establish the BHRS. They have incorporated existing and newly created races into the innovative series. A major requirement is that all the races have a charitable connection. The initial season featured seven races, while season two has eight.

“Our mission from the beginning has been for the BHRS to be a community health initiative,” says Donnelly. “We want to share the joy of running and walking as a fun family activity. Families who participate in the BHRS are developing lifelong healthy habits. And the races are great social events where people make wonderful connections, some that last a lifetime.”

Donnelly notes that “since its inception, the BHRS has had great sponsors and has been heavily promoted.” And that in turn has reaped benefits for the races and their charities.

“We looked at the number of participants in the races prior to and after being part of the BHRS,” says Donnelly. “And the numbers show that the BHRS is driving new participants to these races. More participants means more entry fee money, which translates to more money going to community charities. The first season of the BHRS accounted for approximately $29,423 in total race entry fees from BHRS participants in the seven races. That additional money in race earnings means there is more to give to the charities. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

In addition to presenting sponsor Prime Mortgage Group, other BHRS sponsors are Ocala Style and Healthy Living magazines, Plaid Frog Creative Resources, United Way of Marion County, Gateway Bank of Central Florida, Day & Day PA and the City of Ocala.

 

Here’s a look at some of the races and the impact the BHRS has had on them and their charities.

Gateway Bank’s Reindeer Run 5K

Dec. 10, 2016

For Gateway Bank of Central Florida Chief Executive Officer Tom Ingram, becoming involved with the BHRS was an easy decision.

“We have always been very pro-healthy living here at Gateway, so the Big Hammock’s health community initiative was definitely a draw to become a sponsor of the series,” says Ingram. “We have sponsored the Reindeer Run since 2013. The race starts and finishes at the bank, which then provides a great location to watch the annual Christmas parade. We thought becoming part of the BHRS would be a great way to grow the race.”

Ingram has been happy with the results on all counts.

“There is no doubt that the BHRS has motivated more people to become more physically active. The series is open to everyone of all ages, walkers as well as runners,” he says. “And we’ve definitely seen more participants in the Reindeer Run thanks to the BHRS. This has helped us attract more sponsors for the race, which means more money raised for the community charities we support.”

Although most races give to their respective charities from net race entry proceeds once expenses have been met, Gateway Bank utilizes a different method.

“With the Reindeer Run, the race entry money pays for expenses,” says Ingram. “But money raised from our sponsors is kept separate, and that money is earmarked only for the charity fund. This allows us to give more directly to the charities.”

In 2015, the first season of the BHRS, money raised by Reindeer Run sponsors went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Marion County ($20,000) and Young Life Marion County ($10,000). In 2016, Young Life Marion County will be the Reindeer Run’s benefiting charity.

It should be noted that Gateway Bank also has another role in the BHRS, serving as the host for the series’ season-ending awards party.

“We are very pleased to be a part of the BHRS in all our roles,” says Ingram. “Participating in the BHRS is a great way to be healthier and give back to the community at the same time.”

 

Ocala Marathon/Half Marathon/5K

Jan. 15, 2017

Iggy’s Four On The Fourth

Jul. 4, 2017

“The partnership with the BHRS has definitely been positive,” says Chris Moling, president of the Citrus Road Runners Club and race director for the Ocala Marathon weekend. “While we focus on bringing runners from all over the country to Ocala for the marathon weekend, the BHRS has done a great job of increasing the number of local participants. And that has been a tremendous help to us in growing the event.”

As for the funds raised for charities, Moling is quick to point out that “more participants means more race entries money and more money, after expenses, that we can pass on to our causes.

“The Citrus Road Runners Club uses net proceeds from a total of six events, including the Ocala Marathon weekend races, to raise money for its beneficiaries,” adds Moling. “The CCRC provides funding and support to Citrus County youth running programs, scholarships, support to high school students and contributes to Road Runners Club of America for elementary students in school running programs.”

Moling is also the race director for Ocala-based Iggy’s Four On The Fourth.

“The funds raised by the Four On The Fourth go directly to the Ocala-based Veterans Memorial Park and the American Cancer Society’s We Can Weekend,” says Moling.

Live Oak International 5K

(Season 1)

Blueberry Horseshoe 5K

(Season 2)/Feb. 19, 2017

Donnelly was the race director for Live Oak International 5K, which in the BHRS Season 1 raised money for the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) Florida. More than 40 counties, including Marion County, are served by NAMI Florida.

“We had 620 registered with 536 finishers at the Live Oak event,” says Donnelly. “That is absolutely unheard of participation for a first-year event. The BHRS drove 297 people to the Live Oak event for a total of $9,652 in race entry fees. And the Live Oak International 5K raised $55,000 for NAMI Florida.”

In the BHRS Season 2, the new Blueberry Horseshoe 5K will raise funds for NAMI Florida and NAMI Marion County.

“We are very excited about the Blueberry Horseshoe 5K,” says Donnelly. “The race is going to be held at Lambholm South, a beautiful Thoroughbred farm in northwest Marion County. Just like Live Oak Stud was a beautiful setting, so is Lambholm South. It’ll be a great day for all participants.”

 

By The Numbers:

BHRS Impact Season 1

Turkey Trot 5K/10K

BHRS drove 153 new people to the Turkey Trot, which translates to approximately $3,825 in race entry fees.

Reindeer Run 5K

BHRS drove 161 new people to the Reindeer Run, which translates to approximately $4,025 in race entry fees.

Ocala Marathon/Half Marathon/5K

BHRS drove 146 new people to the Ocala Marathon weekend races, which translates to approximately $5,467 in race entry fees.

Valentine’s Day 5K

BHRS drove 109 new people to the Valentine 5K, which translates to $2,180 in race entry fees.

Live Oak International 5K

BHRS drove 297 new people to the Live Oak International 5K, which translates to approximately $9,652 in race entry fees.

St. Paddy’s Day 5K

BHRS drove 94 new people to St. Paddy’s Day 5K, which translates to approximately $2,350 in race entry fees.

Iggy’s Four On The Fourth

BHRS drove 68 new people to Iggy’s Four On The Fourth, which translates to approximately $1,923 in race entry fees.

$29,423: Total estimated amount the first season of the BHRS generated in race entry fees.

*Statistics provided by Karen Donnelly with BHRS

 

Ready, Set, Go

Upcoming races for Season 2 of the BHRS:

Frank DeLuca YMCA Turkey Trot 5K/10K (11/24/2016): Benefiting the YMCA Scholarship Fund

Gateway Bank Reindeer Run 5K/Super Race (12/10/2016): Benefiting Young Life Marion County

Ocala Marathon/Half Marathon & 5K/Super Race (1/15/2017): Benefiting Citrus County Youth Running Programs

Blueberry Horseshoe 5K/Super Race & Lucky Charm Challenge Race (2/19/2017): Benefiting NAMI Florida & NAMI Marion County

St. Paddy’s Day 5K/Lucky Charm Challenge Race (3/18/2017): Benefiting United Way of Marion County’s Health Programs

Iggy’s Four On The Fourth (7/4/2017): Benefiting Veteran’s Memorial Park & American Cancer Society’s We Can Weekend

Find out more › To register for the BHRS and for more information, visit bighammockraceseries.com.




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