After a successful event last year, the 2017 Umpqua Strong 5K/9K Run Walk is scheduled to take place Sept. 30 at Stewart Park.

“Last year we were hoping for a good turn out and we were pleasantly surprised,” said Umpqua Strong board president Randi Feland. “This community steps up when it matters and wants to support one another.”

The run-walk was held last year on Oct. 1 at Stewart Park to provide a positive community experience in honor of the Oct. 1, 2015, mass shooting that occurred at Umpqua Community College.

This year, Umpqua Strong will partner with the Greater Douglas United Way to organize the event to provide a greater impact in the community. United Way Executive Director Bryan Trenkle will be the race director this year.

By partnering with United Way, Umpqua Strong has access to the organization and its contacts, while also supporting United Way partner agencies like the Family Development Center and Battered Persons Advocacy.

This year, teams will have an option to choose from several local nonprofits including the UCC Foundation and those associated with the United Way.

“We are getting a little bit of a late start, but we are hoping that all goes well,” Feland said. “I think we will have a positive response again.”

The 2016 event drew more than 2,000 runners and walkers who raised about $60,000 in donations for the UCC Foundation’s memorial scholarships in honor of each of the nine victims and one in honor of the survivors.

“It’s a good way to come together in the community and continue to support one another,” Feland said.

The success of last year’s event that included kids’ races, a concert at Legion Field and a ceremony, led to multiple inquiries about the event returning for a second year.

“The level of interest from our event sponsors and participants hasn’t diminished with time,” Feland said. “It would be wonderful to do that again this year.”

Teams showed up on race day last year to take part in the Umpqua Strong run. Remote runners from as far as the East Coast walked or ran their own race in their hometowns to show support.

Umpqua Strong also offered something new to the area through participant fundraising, which allowed runners and walkers to ask friends and family on social media to support them with a monetary pledge.

“The team aspect and the participant fundraising helped get people involved,” Feland said.

To support the Umpqua Strong 9K/5K Run-Walk this year and to participate, sign up online at www.UmpquaStrong.org. Packets will be available for pick up from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, at the Stewart Park pavilion.

Reporter Vera Westbrook can be reached at 541-957-4216 or vwestbrook@nrtoday.com.

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Education and Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Vera Westbrook is the education, nonprofits, and arts and entertainment reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4216 or by email at vwestbrook@nrtoday.com.

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