The five-kilometer fun run/walk will take place on Saturday, Dec. 8, starting at 9 a.m. from Joe Stock Park. A less challenging one-mile route will also be available for all abilities.
“We’re trying to get a lot of community involvement, not just the people who run,” said Ajaye Brown, the club’s secretary-treasurer. “My goal is to see as much of the community to be involved in it as is possible.”
Brown thought of the concept during one of the club’s monthly meetings, in which several ideas for events during the spring and summer of 2013 were discussed.
Brown knew the fun run wouldn’t be difficult to organize and could be done for the holidays.
She has been an avid runner since her days on the LHS cross country team in 2000.
Brown will not be running, instead serving as race organizer. The idea is based on her experiences during the 2009 Country Music Half Marathon that she completed in Nashville during 2009. She has also ran a full marathon in Greece during 2004 and numerous shorter races over the years.
“I have probably run on every road in LaFayette,” Brown said. “I used to run (to pay) my power bill. I’d even run to the bank.
“It’s by far the best race I have ever been a part of,” Brown said. “The entire city was a part of it. There were times when we were running through people’s backyards.”
She recalls the incredible community support for the event that had families setting up tables to serve orange juice to runners or holding homemade signs of support.
The event will help fund the Shop with a Cop program, which benefits less fortunate children in LaFayette.
Several clubs at LaFayette High School will be involved as “spirit teams,” and the school’s art students will be creating the first place trophies. Students at Naomi Elementary School are creating ceramic reindeer ornaments for the second and third place finishers.
LaFayette High School’s Junior Optimist group, the Octagon Club, is coordinating with other youth groups (boys and girl scouts, choir, chorus and cheerleaders) that are also volunteering as “spirit teams’ to encourage runners or serve as support along the race course.
“We will be handing out hot chocolate, bananas and anything that (runners) need during the race,” said Lani Watkins, president of the LHS Junior Optimist Club.
Officer Billy Mullis is hopeful that the Shop with a Cop program will continue to expand to include even more children in the upcoming years with the support of the LaFayette Optimist Club.
“Our Optimist Club’s number one priority is helping children of this community (and) are essential to putting all of our plans into action,” said Chris Davis, president of the LaFayette Optimist Club. “With this fundraiser, we hope to be able to bring more projects to the children of the LaFayette community who need it the most.”
The club is hoping to replace the $2,500 contributions that had been donated by the employees of the Bluebird North Georgia plant, which closed in 2010.
All additional funds will be designated to 2013 community programs, if a larger amount is raised beyond those needed for Shop with a Cop.
The Optimist Club recently partnered with Kids-4-Christ in aiding with the Back to School Blast backpack program. Along with helping provide backpacks full of school supplies, the club is also in its second (of four) months of a Coats for Kids project.
The group also aims to enrich the experience at the annual Special Olympics, held each spring at LHS.
Other fun activities on Dec. 8 during the event will include pictures with Santa, hot chocolate, live caroling and several costumed elves and reindeer at Joe Stock Park.
Brown hopes the spirit teams will be heard “all the way to Rock Spring.”
The LaFayette Optimists will be one of numerous groups participating in the LaFayette Christmas Parade (Dec. 7), which will also unveil the Amazing Festival of Lights, LaFayette’s nightly holiday experience.
The race route will trace the path of the LaFayette Christmas Parade, which will meander through other downtown streets with only slight elevation changes and follow one mile of cart paths in the LaFayette Golf Course.
An individual can pre-register for a $25 entry fee or a team of five for $100, until Dec. 4. which includes a goodie bag, race-themed long sleeve T-shirt and other sponsor deals.
After the race, the runners will vote for the best spirit team, which will also receive a trophy, along with best individual and team costumes and those placing in age brackets.
Volunteers are sought for spirit teams to support and cheer racers through the streets of LaFayette. Local residents are encouraged to watch along the course route.
More information on registration or volunteering is available from race coordinator AJaye Brown at 706-996-8788 or by visiting optimistreindeerun.com.