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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

October 10, 2014  RSS feed
Congregations

Text: T T T

Cong. Beth Am’s Buddy Run fundraiser grows into popular event

By JOEL POILEY Special to the Jewish Press


At the start of the 2013 Buddy Run, the 400 racers take off on the 5K course at Lake Park in Lutz. The race began with just over 200 runners in 2011; between 400-500 are expected to compete this year. At the start of the 2013 Buddy Run, the 400 racers take off on the 5K course at Lake Park in Lutz. The race began with just over 200 runners in 2011; between 400-500 are expected to compete this year. Sometimes the simplest ideas blossom into bountiful community opportunities.

A suggestion to give back to the community has become one of Congregation Beth Am’s biggest fundraisers, while also helping a local youth charity.

Beth Am member Jim Corning had organized a small neighborhood 5k in his Land O’ Lakes subdivision in 2011. When fellow temple member Bob Friedman heard about it, he thought the idea could be expanded upon.

“Bob wondered if we could put on a 5k as a fundraiser that also incorporated a healthy activity and gave us an opportunity to give back to the community,” Corning said. “As we explored the idea we knew that we wanted to make a positive impact on a local charity.”


Race volunteers from last year’s 3rd Annual Buddy Run and 5K: Susan Sand, Mindy Bursten, Briana Bursten and Rosemary Brehm. Race volunteers from last year’s 3rd Annual Buddy Run and 5K: Susan Sand, Mindy Bursten, Briana Bursten and Rosemary Brehm. They convened a small committee and within minutes had thought of Buddy Baseball. Russ Oberbroeckling, whose family is also well known at the temple, started the league in Temple Terrace in 2009 for children with special needs and it was making a huge impact in the community.

“I thought it was a great idea and was very impressed with Beth Am wanting to give back to the community,” Oberbroeckling said.

When the planning committee first met four years ago no one had any experience organizing such an event other than Corning, who helped organize his neighborhood 5k of 40 runners. A group of approximately 15 people worked their way through the details to establish the race. Now a core group of 8-10 executes the annual plan.

“Meetings are less about decision making and more about keeping others informed of where we’re at,” Corning said.

Today, approximately 100 volunteers help run the event, with about two-thirds coming from Beth Am.

Nearly $30,000 has been raised from the first three races, with proceeds split between Beth Am and Buddy Baseball.

Oberbroeckling said the event and the money raised from the Buddy Run has provided tremendous exposure for Buddy Baseball and helped the program keep registration costs low, provide scholarships and help pay for uniforms, equipment and other expenses.

Sponsorship for the race got off on the right foot when a Buddy Baseball board member secured her employer, Humana, to be its grand slam sponsor. “Our very first sponsor has been our biggest supporter and is back again for the fourth consecutive year,” Corning said. “We’ve received broad support from more than 30 businesses in Hillsborough and Pasco counties.”

As word spread in the running community about how well run the race has been, the numbers have increased each year from just over 200 runners in 2011 to approximately 400 last year. This year Corning said he expects 400- 500 runners between the 5K and 1 mile Fun Run.

“We’re constantly trying to elevate the Buddy Run to be a best in class event,” Corning said. “We upgraded our shirt from cotton to Sport-Tek last year and this year we are moving from manual timing to chip timing. We really try to make our run a fun event for families and first-time or newly returning runners.”

Russell Rhodes, co-anchor of WTVT, Fox 13, returns as the host for the event, and this year the Tampa Bay Rays’ DJ Kitty will make an appearance.

The race is also USATF sanctioned and attracts a strong field of runners. While ranking the popularity of races is not an exact science, Joe Fernandez, editor of Race Place magazine, said the key gauge is if the numbers increase each year. By that standard the Buddy Run has made its mark in the running community.

“Each race is unique, so they can’t be ranked,” Fernandez said. “But the Buddy Run has done well and continues to improve each year.”

One of the highlights of the event is the Buddy Dash, a short sprint for all participants with special needs held at the conclusion of the Fun Run right before the awards ceremony.

“It’s a fantastic sight to see the pure joy on the faces of the kids in the dash as they cross the finish line in front of a packed set of bleachers full of runners, volunteers, friends and family cheering them on,” Corning said.

About the event
What: 4th Annual Buddy
Run 5k and Fun Run
When: Nov. 2, race starts
at 8 a.m.
Where: Lake Park in
Carrollwood
Registration fee: $25 by
Oct. 15; $30 after Oct. 15;
$35 day of race


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