VERO BEACH – A cute name was not the only thing the HabiTrot to Higher Education 5K run/walk had going for it. For its fourth year, the popular Indian River Habitat for Humanity fundraiser enjoyed great weather, a record number of participants and, in all likelihood, the best dollars-raised figure yet.
The 245 runners, walkers, joggers and stroller-pushers mingled in the chilly Saturday morning air at Vero Beach’s South Beach Park, signing in, warming up and stretching out as they waited for the starter’s gun.
The diverse group ranged in age from 6-year-old Anna Gore to 73-year-old Roberta McNeill, both from Vero Beach.
Top winners were:
Overall Male – Dror Vaknin, 16:47
Overall Male Masters – Matt Gallagher, 18:08
Overall Female – Tara McFarlane, 20:50
Overall Female Masters – Mary Lunn, 21:09.
This year, for the first time, a 1-mile Bunny Hop run was held for the younger kids.
A dozen enthusiastic athletes-in-training gave it their all, and each received a Majestik movie pass and the ubiquitous candy-filled plastic eggs at the finish.
The event and the name were the brain-children of Jessica Schmitt, a dedicated runner herself. Schmitt orchestrated the first HabiTrot when she was an AmeriCorps volunteer with the local Habitat affiliate.
After her year of AmeriCorps service, Schmitt joined the Habitat staff as Volunteer Coordinator and has coordinated the runs each year since.
The race raises funds for Habitat’s Scholarship Program, which provides training, support and scholarship money for qualified sons and daughters of Habitat homeowners who wish to advance their education.
This program is part of Indian River Habitat’s ongoing effort to provide support not only as the homebuyers work through the program toward homeownership, but continuing after they become homeowners.
Providing opportunities for furthering the education of these young people has been shown to be a significant way to break the cycle of poverty and eliminate the need for second-generation Habitat homeowners.
Following the race, runners were greeted with music by M.J. Wicker and snacks, T-shirts and goody bags.
Golden Runner sponsors were: Chip and Chris Busch, Lindsey Plowden Goodall, the DeRenzo Family, the Silaika Family, PD-go!, Collins, Brown, Caldwell, Barkett and Garazaglia, Youth Sailing Foundation, and Best Buy.