by Amelia Holliday
Local nonprofits participating for the third straight year in one of the county’s biggest fundraising events should expect some new surprises this year.
The Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky will host its 3rd Annual Run for the Hills Charity Challenge, which runs from Aug. 1 through Oct. 31. The event offers an opportunity for the community to show its support of local nonprofits by providing donation opportunities, with each donation being matched up to $10,000 by the foundation for each nonprofit.
Associate executive director for the foundation, Robin Gabbard, said the event will be trying new things this year, starting with a kickoff to start the challenge.
“It (Run for the Hills) builds that awareness, it helps nonprofits spotlight the programs that they’re offering to our community, and it helps them look for volunteer opportunities and new donors,” Gabbard said. “We’re really excited about the kickoff on Aug. 2 just for that reason.”
Gabbard said the kickoff will be held at the Triangle Park in Hazard from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will serve as more than just a celebration for the start of the foundation’s charity event.
“It’s two-fold. It’s to kick off the three-month campaign, but it’s also a health and wellness fair where we’re challenging the community to not only commit to their favorite charity for this three-month period but to commit to their own health and wellness. Form a walking club, form a running club, form a fitness group, but commit to yourself to do something,” she said.
Gabbard said the kickoff will offer a number of wellness-related activities including body mass indexing and glucose testing by the Primary Care Centers, physical therapist attendants teaching different types of exercises, as well as an opportunity to learn more about health insurance opportunities from the Affordable Care Act through Humana.
“The animal shelter, even though it’s a health and wellness campaign, on that evening they’re going to be having a dog walk parade so that you can bring your pet and parade them around and think about the health and wellness of your animals,” she added.
The evening before the main event of the charity challenge, the Run for the Hills 5K Race, the foundation will be set up at the Treehouse Café on Main Street in Hazard offering an early race packet pick-up and late registration, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Gabbard said.
Gerry Roll, executive director of the foundation, said the whole Run for the Hills event is meant to not only help the 15 local nonprofits participating this year collect funds now but to also help them be prepared for the future. It does this by creating an endowment fund within the foundation with whatever amount of match money the nonprofit receives at the end of the three months. She said preparing a fund like this is especially important now with the dwindling moneys nonprofits are receiving in these tough economic times.
“We need to be planning for the future, taking care of our needs now but not forgetting the future. It’s hard to think about that when you’re starving; we’re all desperate for funds right now,” Roll said. “As a community foundation, our role is to try to help all of us and keep in mind that the future is important, too.”
Gabbard said the foundation believes the Run for the Hills event is something necessary for a local community that may be big on giving but not so much on giving locally.
“We really believe that if all of us work together we can raise more money. We also believe that our community feels strongly that all this money that’s being raised is staying here in the community, so it’s growing and it’s making us more sustainable, making us stronger as a community as a whole,” she said.
“We head a lot about buy local, eat local, we’re really trying to encourage our community to think about giving local,” Roll said.