Participants in the third annual Rail Trail 5K Run/Walk to benefit the Executive Roundtable of Indian River County traversed a rather unique trail last Saturday morning. The event took runners across the I-95 Central Railroad Greenway Pedestrian Overpass, the bridge that connects North County Regional Park and the Fellsmere Trailhead Preserve.
Neither fog nor cooler temperatures could dampen the spirits of the participants as they raced through forests of pine trees and saw palmettos. The 5K took them along the path of the Dinky Line, with runners chugging along under their own steam rather than aboard one of the former Trans-Florida Central Railroad trains that in the early 1900s ran the route connecting Sebastian and Fellsmere.
The Executive Roundtable was founded in 2011 by a group of nonprofit leaders representing education, law enforcement, health, welfare and community administration, and obtained nonprofit status in 2014. Its mission is to “identify solutions that will protect and enhance the lives of Indian River County residents, and their families, with an emphasis on children.”
Proceeds from the Rail Trail 5K enable the Executive Roundtable to support local nonprofits that serve children and families in the community.
A large part of their effort is focused on introducing Kids at Hope to the community. Its strategic framework engages the community by training adults to be “intentional in believing, engaging and connecting with children.”
“It’s a culture change that teaches adults and people in children’s lives to believe that all children are capable of success, without exception,” explained Aimee Hill, ERIRC executive director. “It takes the thinking from at-risk youth to at-hope youth.”
Five Indian River County schools have already received training, and Hill said they hope to eventually branch out to the rest of the community.
“We want to be anywhere that kids can hang out. You never know who that one person in a child’s life will be that can identify their treasures and help them succeed,” said Hill.
The organization has provided funding to the Treasure Coast Food Bank, Gifford Youth Orchestra, Special Equestrians of the Treasure Coast and the Kindergarten Readiness Collaborative; has sponsored the Superintendent’s Art Gallery; and has served as an oversight committee for the Department of Juvenile Justice Civil Citation program.
Most recently, they formed a Census Complete Count Committee to help boost the Census response rate in Indian River County.
Jake Kramer took first place overall in the 5K with a time of 17:40, and Jennifer Goodall came in first in the women’s division with a time of 23:07.
For more information, visit execroundtableirc.org.
Photos by Kaila Jones