It was with tears and a great deal of thanks that the Macomb Intermediate School District’s Homeless Education Liaison accepted a check for $20,000 from the organizers of Macomb Township’s first 5K race Monday.
“That’s amazing,” said Kathy Kropf after getting her first glimpse of the five-digit check. “It is the biggest check we have ever received.”
The check was a combination of donations and proceeds raised by “Run the Plank: 3 Miles of Faith,” the first community-wide event hosted by Macomb Township’s three churches – Immanuel Lutheran Church, St. Isidore Catholic Church and St. Peter Lutheran Church.
With 918 registered runners and walkers, the June 30 race was one of the largest first-time events ever held in Macomb County.
“We got together as strangers and started putting together a concept called Run the Plank,” said Mike Fontana, lead organizer from St. Isidore. “Over a period of five months, we developed some great friendships, had some good times – had some rough times – but overall we worked hard toward putting together an event called Run the Plank: 3 Miles of Faith.”
In addition to the $20,000 check for the Homeless Education Project, which expects to serve more than 1,100 homeless students this fall, the race collected more than 4,600 pairs of shoes for Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that recycles and distributes shoes to children and adults in need around the world.
“One of the things that is a passion and a great joy for all three of our churches is we all know the need of the church to provide for the needs of the community around us, and that is why it was very important for all three of us to make sure we are taking care of those who have true need in our community,” said Immanuel Lutheran Pastor Greg Griffith.
“Imagine what we can do after a year of planning,” Griffith added.
The next race is scheduled for June 29, 2013 and organizers promise it will be both bigger and better.
“What fueled the committee and personally fueled me was the negatism and people saying, 'You can’t do it. You can’t do it in four months. It’s impossible. No one has ever done it.’ And to have something pull off the way it did and with no glitches. The fact is nobody fell, nobody got hurt, nobody died and all the feedback was positive,” Fontana said.
One hundred percent of the $20,000 check will be used to provide homeless students in the county with $50 gift cards for clothes and schools throughout the school year. Now in their 19th year, Kropf said this is the largest single donation the project has ever received.