Running for a cause at annual celebration

It was hot and humid most of the day on Saturday, Sept. 1, but that didn’t stop the festivities at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.

Beginning with a 5K run in the morning followed by a day of games and food, the annual Emancipation Festival “was a nice day all along,” according to Millicent George, coordinator of the event.

“We had an excellent turnout,” said George, who estimated almost 300 people attended throughout the day. “We had a lot of fun.”

Runners from all over the area participated in the sixth annual Emancipation Day Diabetes 5K Run/Walk and I Mile Fun Walk, a benefit for the University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology.

“It has become a community effort of the church and community working together,” said Jackie Jones, organizer of the run, which is certified by the USA Track & Field as being an accurately measured distance and attracts runners from all over, including one this year from Charlestown, South Carolina, Jones added.

“We will be able to give a generous donation. I am so pleased,” said Jones, who, as a diabetic, has seen first-hand the need when she is at the center.

“Many go to the center and have not eaten. They have to decide either to get food or pay their co-pays for medication,” Jones said.

Money raised by the run goes directly to the center’s programs that help provide breakfast for patients as well as aiding with copays, Jones said.

“Last year our donation helped over 350 people,” Jones said. “It is very heartwarming.”

After the run, activities started at the church at 601 8th St, where tents served funnel cakes, fried chicken, fish platters, hot dogs and more.

A popular attraction was the new Free Skate event. Based on an event held by the city earlier this year, the free skate featured free skates provided to both adults and children to use on the basketball courts, George said.

“Some people saw it [when the city did it] and donated two hours to us to do it,” George said. “It was an excellent thing.”

Another hit, George said, was the soccer “bumper balls” that featured youth strapping into big, blown-up bubble-like contraptions.

“You could knock yourself silly,” George said. “They loved it.”

The Buffalo Soldiers had a display and brought a horse to offer free rides.

Typically, there is a parade, George said, but things “got hectic” and it was decided to not do one this year.

“We will definitely do it next year,” she said, as it was missed. ​​​

kvjones@baltsun.com

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