By Andy Winemiller - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cash prizes made the difference in attracting competition to this year’s United Fund of Surry Downtown Rocks and Runs fundraiser.
United Fund director Christina Plitt said Saturday’s ninth annual 5k race touted a field of competitive runners and more overall runners than in years past.
“You get some fast people when you offer cash prizes,” remarked Plitt.
Cash prizes of up to $250 were offered to those runners who placed in each age division. Plitt said the cash prizes were made possible through an anonymous donation from an individual who “wanted to spark some competition.”
This year’s event posted a field of 237 timed runners, said Plitt.
She also noted the race had raised more money for the fund and the 25 local agencies the United Fund financially supports than last year’s event.
Last year about $17,000 was raised at the event.
Plitt said the event’s success was a result of both increased participation and the support from the community — especially member organizations.
“Our costs were minimal,” said Plitt, noting food, shirts and other costs were covered by sponsorship dollars or provided by member agencies.
Many member organizations were on hand volunteering at the race Saturday morning. One such organization was Yokefellow Ministries, a local food pantry.
Dixie Ratliff, the pantry’s only paid employee, said last year Yokefellow distributed more than 409,000 pounds of food in the local community, an undertaking made possible by the support of the United Fund.
“United Fund’s support is huge,” said Ratliff. “They are our largest contributor.”
Plitt said while the Rocks and Runs fundraiser, which included a performance by the Craig Vaughn Experience at Old North State Winery Saturday evening, may create the buzz surrounding the United Fund, the race is but the beginning of a year-long campaign to raise funds.
This year, the fund plans to match its $450,000 goal of last year, said Plitt. Last year was the first time the organization had met its fundraising goal in four years.
She said the bulk of funds raised is actually garnered through an “employee campaign,” in which employees of local companies can choose to have donations deducted from their payroll. About 25 to 30 local companies take part in the program.
Incoming United Fund board chairman Todd Tucker said he’s looking forward to another year — the 60th year, to be exact — of raising dollars for local agencies.
“I look forward to working with all our agencies,” said Tucker. “I am also appreciative of all these volunteers out here helping today.”