Glow run and fun walk raises funds for Brook Lane
HALFWAY — Williamsport resident Michelle Benda has been participating in Brook Lane’s On Your Mark, Get Set, Glow! event, a 5K run/walk that helps raise funds for the mental health consortium.
She said she was encouraged by her neighbor, Kay Hoffman, director of Development at Brook Lane Health Services, to participate in the first one.
Benda said she enjoyed it so much, she’s been coming back year after year to participate in the event at Martin “Marty” L. Snook Park in Halfway.
That first year, Benda, 52, said, “I was just expecting a fun-filled night with some friends.”
That first event not only lived up to her expectations but exceeded them. She said family and friends come along with her — some of whom are even asking when the next event is.
The 4th annual On Your Mark, Get Set, Glow! Run/Walk is Friday, Aug. 4, which includes the option of a 5K Fun Run or a 2-mile run. Deadline to receive T-shirts and a goodie bag is Monday, July 24. Registration on Aug. 4 begins with check in and field party at 7 p.m. and the run begins at 9 p.m.
Alli Ruth, Brook Lane discharge coordinator as well as a member of the Glow committee, said the event is held at night not only to beat the August heat — but because participants are encouraged to show up dressed in glow-in-the-dark accessories and fluorescent colors.
“It’s a great family event,” Ruth said. “Even dogs on leashes can come and do the 2-mile walk with the family.”
She said the event is an important fundraiser for Brook Lane. Last year’s event raised $21,000. This year, the goal is $25,000. The monies raised go for trips to the residents who live in the group homes, as well as maintenance and expansion of the hospital.
“Basically, it helps our agency to grow and help more people,” Ruth said. “Exercise, also, is an important part of mental health.”
The event kicks off first with a field party, Ruth said, where there will be plenty of activities including cornhole, their version of Plinko, giant Jenga, hula-hooping, glow-in-the-dark face painting and more. Although the committee is made up of 10 core participants, Ruth said it takes about 100 volunteers to help set up the course and fun field every year.
Ruth said the route follows the main road into the wooded area and along the path before looping around back to the back parking lot.
What Benda, who prefers to walk over running, said she enjoys, is how well the course was set up.
“It had a lot of different lights and it was very ‘glowy,’ I guess you could say,” she said.
One of the draws is watching what type of outfits the glow-in-the-dark participants come to the event dressed in. Benda jokingly said she got some ideas including some light-up tutus.
“Every year it’s a little bit different,” she said, noting how “it’s kind of neat how people light up their areas.”
Ruth said people come with glow-in-the-dark body paint, glow-in-the-dark sticks around his or her neck and more creative ways to stand out during the evening event.
Although runners and walks don’t have to raise funds to participate, as band director of Smithsburg Middle School, Benda said her school does a benefit concert every spring with funds being donated to a local organization.
This year, Brook Lane was selected, and Benda said the school raised a little more than $1,000 that was donated from the April concert. Taking it even a step further, Benda said her band and choral students also put together a promotional video to help spread the word about Glow.
“I’m hoping to see some of my students and their families there since I sent out flyers,” she said.
Benda said she likes doing community-oriented activities such as the concert.
“I think it’s really important to show the students that their world is bigger than Smithsburg, or Williamsport or Hagerstown, they know they need to give back,” she said.
Benda said it also lessens the stigma about a mental issue.
“Brook Lane is a great organization that helps our area,” she said. “And it’s important to get that message out there that mental health is important.”
Ruth echoed Benda’s sentiments, stating that Brook Lane has campuses in Smithsburg, Hagerstown’s North End and Frederick, Md.
“It’s a fun event for people to understand what Brook Lane is and how it works,” she said. “We want to continue to expand our services and provide better quality services.”