Monday, October 5, 2009

Hopebuilders 5K is one for the kids

It's a big month for big-name charity races, from last Saturday's Komen Race for the Cure to the Lungstrong 15K/5K on Oct. 17. Sandwiched in between them, though, is a goodwill-minded 5K that has quietly become one of the fall's most popular events.

It's the Hopebuilders 5K Run/Walk, and it's set for 8 a.m. this Saturday, just south of uptown Charlotte, near Carolinas Medical Center's main facility and site of the race beneficiary: Levine Children's Hospital.

Kirstin Ashford of Carolinas HealthCare Foundation gave us some details on this event, which for 14 years has been raising money to help sick and injured kids in the Carolinas.

THE COURSE goes right in front of Levine Children's Hospital, and includes a portion of the famed Booty Loop as it traverses through scenic Myers Park. Ashford says it has rolling hills, and describes the difficulty level as "moderate" -- in skiers' lingo, it's "like blue instead of black diamond."

PARTICIPATION skyrocketed from about 1,000 in 2007 to 1,700 in 2008 (most of 'em are pictured below). Ashford is hopeful they'll come close to 2,000 Saturday.

FOR FAMILIES, after the race there'll be a festival featuring face painting, games, moon bounces, music, food, massage, an appearance by Sir Purr, and a Corvette display. There's also a Kids Fun Run that starts at 8:45.

THE HOPEBUILDERS 5K is becoming well-known, Ashford says, for its dedicated teams of runners. "We have some teams that have come back year after year. You can pick them out by their matching shirts. Most of these teams are running in honor/memory of a patient at Levine Children’s Hospital. We hope it eventually becomes known as the largest family fundraising event in Charlotte."

FUNDRAISING from the race is anticipated to reach between $125,000 and $150,000. Money will be used to fulfill a $500,000 commitment to support and advance Levine Children's Hospital.

PARKING, in the hospital lot adjacent to Kenilworth Avenue, will be free and very well-marked.

Runners and walkers are welcome in the 5K, as are baby joggers/strollers and wheelchair athletes. Registration is $20 for adults through Thursday, or $30 thereafter; kids pay $10 in advance, or $20 on race day. For more information or to register, click here.