Lee Kiwanis to hold races

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Kiwanis International was founded nearly a century ago with the mission of improving communities by reaching out to society's youngest members.

Later this month, the organization's Lee County chapter is striving to keep that effort going.

On Aug. 28, the Kiwanis Club of Lee County is teaming with area businesses to host the inaugural "Leesburg in the Long Run for Children."

"The event is being held to raise funds for Kiwanis children's programs and also to bring people into Leesburg," said Don VanOteghem, a member of the club.

There will 5K and 10.5K events, which are set to start at 7:30 a.m. A 1-mile run and walk will begin at 7:45 a.m. The starting line will be at the Lee County Chamber of Commerce, located at 100 Starksville Ave. N. in downtown Leesburg.

"This is a longer race than you would usually see here," VanOteghem said. "Several people I know of have been interested in a longer race."

Officials are hoping to bring in roughly 100 participants. Through various community sponsors such as Colony Bank and Wal-Mart, the club has so far raised $2,000 for its cause.

"The support of local businesses in helping fund our race shows the interest we have here in making a difference in Lee County," said Amanda Smith, president of the club.

The Lee County club, which was chartered July 8, may soon have other fundraisers on the horizon.

"This is our first large fundraiser," Smith said. "As membership increases, we will be able to do more fundraisers."

The club currently has 27 members.

The fundraiser is open to the public, and participants are allowed to walk at all of the scheduled events. The races will be split up by male and female as well as age groups in five-year intervals for the 5K and 10.5K events, and there will be handcrafted prizes given to runners who come in first, second and third place. Those who finish the 1-mile event will receive a participation award. Overall male and female winners will also be recognized.

Participants who pre-register by Saturday will get a free T-shirt. Entry fees are $20 for one event, if postmarked by Saturday. After that point until Aug. 28, the fee will be $25. For the 1-mile event, the cost is $15 if postmarked by Saturday or $20 after Saturday. For two events, the cost is $35 if postmarked by Saturday or $40 afterward.

All proceeds go to Lee County Kiwanis specifically for support of children in the community via scholarships and various organizations.

"It will go wherever the need is greatest," Smith said.

Those wishing to participate may fill out an online registration form at www.georgiarunner.com or contact VanOteghem at (229) 759-1970.

The Kiwanis Club of Lee County meets at the Grand Island Club every Thursday at noon. For more information on the club, e-mail kiwanisclubofleecounty@yahoo.com or find "Kiwanis Club of Lee County" on Facebook.