Westminster Rescue Mission’s Freedom 5K Run/Walk raises funds, awareness of programs

Streaks of golden sunshine defied the cold as runners gathered on the campus of the Westminster Rescue Mission on Saturday, Nov.11. With temperatures dipping into the teens overnight, it was the coldest morning in months, but that didn’t stop the dedicated participants in the second annual Freedom 5K Run/Walk, hosted by the Mission.

After registering for the race at Penguin Random House, runners were shuttled to the Mission’s Lucabaugh Mill Road facility for the opening ceremony, with a color guard, the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, the national anthem and welcoming announcements.


Angela Phillips, director of development for the Mission, said their race has a theme of freedom.

“Last year it was between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. This year it got moved to Veterans Day. We play off two ideas that address freedom,” she said. “The first is that it’s patriotic. But the importance of it all is that we are an addiction recovery program and it is [about] freedom from addiction for our men.”


Runners and walkers, whose scenic route took them through the mission’s campus, onto Penguin Random House property, through Bennett Cerf Park and back to the mission, didn’t seem phased by the cold.

Random House employees Rita Pamplin, of Manchester, and Pat Linthicum, of Finksburg, said the cold didn’t make a difference.

“I’ve already run one 5K, so I wanted to do this one, too,” Pamplin said. “I want to help the community and it sounded like fun. I’ve got tons of layers on — two layers of sweat pants, heavy socks, three shirts, a jacket, a hat and gloves. I’m good. I was not going to back out.”

Linthicum said this was her fourth 5K this year, something she started doing with her daughter.

“I’m all for the cold,” she said. “When I was younger I wore shorts in it, but I can’t do that anymore. I’ve got double everything on. I like that this cause helps people in my own town.”

Runners milled about before the race, trying to keep warm. Some stopped at a selfie station for a photo. There were also activities for kids and each runner got a ticket for a drawing for door prizes. Furnace Hills Coffee provided hot beverages. Employee, Regina Brooks was there to set up and serve.

“I’m just glad to be able to spread a little warmth,” Brooks said. “I brewed the coffee and am just making sure everything stays fresh for the runners. We like to give back to the community as much as possible.”

Recreational runner, Kali Capaletti, of Perry Hall, found out about the race through her mom, who works at the Mission.

“I ran a race in Frederick in May on a cold and rainy morning,” she said, shrugging off the weather. “I have three layers on the bottom and three layers on the top. I did go out and get new gloves and a head scarf.”

Linda Russell, of Manchester, who was walking the course, said she heard about it while working at Random House and recruited others to come.

Runners Elli Dietrich and her boyfriend, Donny Caltrider, of Lineboro, both said the cause meant a lot to them, but they also wanted to get back into running.

“We both used to run,” Caltrider said. “This will be a good jumpstart to get back into it. I grew up in Carroll County and it’s nice to be contributing to a program that gives back to those in need in the community.”


Troop 320 Boy Scouts and Manchester residents Colton Feezer and Adam Bell oversaw the flag ceremony.

“I organized a thing where we are going to serve food for Thanksgiving to the people in the men’s Mission,” Bell said. “Then, they asked if we would like to be the color guards for this.

Feezer shoved his hands in his pockets, smiling against the cold.

“As long as we have hot chocolate and handwarmers, we are good,” he said.

Carol Bernstein, executive director of the Westminster Rescue Mission, said the race wasn’t just a fundraiser.

“We wanted to showcase our beautiful campus,” she said. “We find very often when we are out in the community that people don’t have a great awareness of what we do here. We wanted to give them a reason to come out.

“Running is all about training and endurance. Recovery is the same thing. It’s a lifelong pursuit and it takes a lot of work and commitment.”

Bernstein noted that the Mission store was open, and tours were available, too.

“A lot of people connect us with the Mission store, but they don’t know that we do long-time recovery, we have a large food distribution program, and we are starting as a satellite location for the cold weather shelter for emergency overflow. We’re here to meet needs within the community,” she said. “But right now, with the addiction epidemic, our long-time residential recovery program is something people need to know about. We hover between 24 and 30 men in a highly structured program. It’s a really joyful place to be because we see the change in people over the months as they start to heal physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

Bernstein said the men who are in recovery also work for them, and that plays a part.

“Our food program is largely run by the men in recovery. We are in partnership with over 40 stores and restaurants who make surplus food available to us to redistribute to people in need in this community,” she said. “The men in recovery are the ones picking up the food every day, weighing it, documenting it, sorting, tracking and delivering it through our onsite pantry and other programs and providers — like soup pantries, school pantries, senior centers. It’s a blessing because they discover their own capacity to serve others. It really brings out in them a desire to do more serving, the opposite of addiction which is an inward focusing, isolating experience. The work they do here is very meaningful to their recovery.”

Ron Shaw, president of the Board of Directors for the Mission, said he hoped to broaden the public’s knowledge of their facility.

“The running world can help us spread the world,” Shaw said. “I was born and raised in Carroll County. Everybody has family or friends who have been afflicted with addiction. I had a family member who was afflicted. We were unsuccessful with him, but I would like to be able to help others. I feel like I have to do what I can to help others.”

Kyndal Gehlback of Monkton, came with her dog, Otis. She heard about the run through Shaw, who is her stepfather.

“The mission is important,” she said while stroking Otis. “I hear a lot through Ron, and the standard 30-day treatment program is just too short. Here, they have the ability to stay as long as they need to stay.”


After the race, the fun continued with free hot dogs and wings, jambalaya, fruit, ice cream and other good things to eat. There were medals for first through third place winners in seven age categories, and more than 200 door prizes.

Phillips said the race was a precursor to their 50th anniversary year and just one way to showcase all they do.

“One million seventy-five pounds of food came in to us in 2016 to feed the community,” she said. “Recovery happens one day at a time. And when the cold weather shelter is at capacity we have 12 overflow beds to help get people out of the cold. They can get a hot shower, get their clothes washed, have a hot breakfast and take a meal with them, and because of our thrift store operation they can also get some gently used clothes if needed.”

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