This Saturday, local runners will lace up their sneakers in the Buchtel neighborhood for the third annual West Akron 5K Run/Walk, an event with humble beginnings but one that is making strides every year in Akron as the only inner city run of its kind. As in past years, the runners will start from Buchtel Community Learning Center in a race that combines wellness and philanthropy.
“After participating in 5Ks outside of Akron or in the suburbs, Mary Anderson (race director), brought up the idea to have our own 5K,” says Organizer Christel Silas. “A lot of the races we attended were not culturally diverse and often times, we would be the only black females in attendance.”
Because Anderson is a Buchtel alumna, the race proceeds benefit the high school’s stadium fund. So far, they’ve raised about $4,000 toward this effort. Silas stresses that the organizers do not profit; the work is done for the good of the community.
The West Akron 5K came into being during Silas’ time in the Neighborhood Leadership Institute of Summit County, which at the time was run by United Way of Summit County. She says the program helped her make the proper connections to make the race a reality, from finding the right partnerships to getting the interest of volunteers, sponsors and media contacts.
“We had to have the event approved by the city of Akron, the route reviewed by Metro RTA for detours and we needed to gain sponsorships to pay for everything,” says Silas. “I utilized a lot of the resources I had come in contact with at NLISC to help along the way.”
Adds Silas: “Our first event in 2014 was such a success that we couldn’t believe it ourselves. We promoted, recruited and networked with Akron Public Schools, the Buchtel PTA and gained the support of The Gus Johnson Community Foundation as our fiscal sponsor. We were able to rally 165 participants our first year and donate $1,500 of the proceeds. The following year, we gained more participants, more sponsors and were able to increase our giving to $2,500.”
Registration begins at 6:30 a.m. Saturday’s 1-mile run begins at 7:30 a.m., and the 5K starts at 8 a.m. Buchtel CLC is located at 1040 Copley Road.
The West Akron 5K is a collaboration with the Gus Johnson Community Foundation and aims to bring the community together while raising funds to create a spirit of health, wellness and philanthropy for the students and surrounding neighborhood at John R. Buchtel High School. Other sponsors include the city of Akron and the United Women of Wellness (UWOW).
To register, visit www.racepenguin.com/events/westakronfunrun. For details, contact Silas at (330) 990-2923 or Mary Anderson at (330) 835-8110.