To many people, Hattiesburg Clinic’s annual Rise & Shine Half-Marathon & 5K is known as a fundraiser for The Arc of Southeast Mississippi. For The Arc, the event is also a source of inspiration and awareness. This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, April 7. The half-marathon will start at 7 a.m., with the 5K beginning at 7:15 a.m.
"The race is so important to this program, because it helps these adults have relationships just like everyone needs and desires, and gives them the quality of life they deserve,” said Susan Yarrow, public relations manager for Hattiesburg Clinic.
Hattiesburg Clinic’s first half-mara-thon and 5K kicked off in April 2012 as an effort to raise money for The Arc, a United Way nonprofit organization that provides community based services to Mississippi residents with intellectual and developmental challenges and their families.
The inaugural event showed promise, as it attracted nearly 300 race participants and raised approximately $6,000 for The Arc. In 2017, the run attracted more than 702 participants and raised approximately $32,000 for The Arc.
The fundraising success inspired The Arc to develop a full-time adult program where individuals would learn life skills and become involved in recreational and social activities. They named it the Rise & Shine Program.
“The Arc is dependent on fundraising, grants, programming fees and contributions to be able to provide the level of programming made available to individuals with disabilities,” said Cindy Pennington, Arc executive director. “We have the Rise & Shine program that has offered a wholesome new life to adults with disabilities. Although there are programming fees, The Arc still incurs a significant deficit. If the organization tried to close this gap by raising program fees, many could not attend. Therefore, the Rise & Shine Half-Marathon & 5K generates a significant amount of funding that has allowed us to afford our first full-time program.”
To date, the race has raised a little more than $100,000 during the past six years, with the largest amount of $32,000 collected last year.
Pennington said although the financial support alone stresses the importance of the race, it really goes far beyond the dollar.
“The race is an opportunity for us to allow some of our participants [from The Arc] to be able to finish a half-marathon or a 5K as a rider in race wheelchairs,” she said.
Pennington also pointed out the awareness it provides for their organization and members.
“The race is an opportunity for The Arc to be showcased as a vital part of our community. Hopefully, we can reach families who are in need of our services, as well as create community awareness of individuals with disabilities,” she said.
According to Pennington, The Arc’s members, parents and staff recognize that the race is a huge event for the community and they are grateful to be a part of it.
“The Arc participants are impacted because they are simply included,” she said. “The clinic depends on them to make the pottery for the winner prizes. In addition, the participants design the race T-shirts by providing the artwork design. They are asked to be on site to personally hand out the pottery items to all racers.”
Pennington wants those who participate in the race to know that “no matter where you finish in this race, you are a winner! No matter what role you take to make the event a success, you too are a winner.”
Visit The Arc website at www.hattiesburgarc.com or Facebook at The Arc Southeast Mississippi or actually visit one of our programs.
“You will see what a difference you are making in the lives of individuals with disabilities just by being a part of this community event,” Pennington said.