Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way: EmergeOrtho and YMCA Take Annual 5k Run Virtual During Pandemic
Lace up your sneakers, Southeastern North Carolina. You are invited to join a virtual 5k run that is not only the largest in North Carolina, it includes thousands of runners in eight states.
Due to social distancing guidelines recommended by local, state and national health officials to prevent the spread of COVID-19, race co-hosts EmergeOrtho and the YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina have adapted the annual EmergeOrtho 5k to a virtual format. This annual celebratory fundraising event for the YMCA’s Girls on the Run and STRIDE of Coastal Carolina programs will be held May 16 through May 23, 2020, and the general public is encouraged to participate.
Currently operating in 40 schools across New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Columbus and Cumberland counties, Girls on the Run and STRIDE are life-changing, interactive learning programs that use the power of running to inspire pre-teen girls and boys for a lifetime of self-respect and healthy lifestyles. Since schools have closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, program members have continued to train for the 13th annual event on their own.
“In this time of uncertainly, we wanted to find a way to leverage technology to support the kids who have been training towards a goal,” said Jennifer Loper, Director of Marketing and Business Development for EmergeOrtho. “It was important to celebrate their achievement in the now versus a future unknown date.”
Race organizers have set up twelve courses across six counties in the region, which participants can run any time between May 16 and May 23. Runners, event organizers and supporters will use Setup Events for timing and the RaceJoy app for turn-by-turn course instructions, live leader boards and tracking individual runners. Loper said that family members, friends and the general public can use RaceJoy to send encouraging messages to runners along the way. “For instance, if a STRIDE participant is running at the Hampstead Kiwanis Park in Wilmington, his grandparents in Maine can send messages to encourage him to go the distance,” she explained.
Participants also have the option to design their own course and run in their own neighborhoods if they choose, with neighbors cheering them on from their cul-de-sac.
Additionally, the annual WILMA Dash, which was scheduled to be held around the same time, has partnered with EmergeOrtho in the event. Presented by WILMA Magazine, The WILMA Dash is Wilmington’s only all-female 5k. WILMA Magazine and Greater Wilmington Business Journal are published by the same parent company.
“It was a natural fit for EmergeOrtho and the Business Journal to partner in supporting these girls and boys who have been training so hard,” said Steve DeBiasi, Chief Executive Officer of EmergeOrtho. “It only adds to the event for WILMA Dash runners to participate in the virtual 5k, as well.”
DeBiasi added that a virtual race bag with discounts for local businesses is also being provided as a means to support event sponsors and to encourage people to shop local when possible.
Event packets, including an official race t-shirt, are available through curbside pickup from 3:30 until 6:00 p.m. on May 15 at the following EmergeOrtho locations:
- 3787 Shipyard Boulevard, Wilmington
- 8115 Market Street, Suite 108, Wilmington (Porters Neck area)
- 1168 East Cutlar Crossing, Leland (Villages of Brunswick Forest)
Packets may also be mailed to participants who choose that option.
“So many people have needed something to look forward to and get out of the house,” continued Loper. “We provided twelve different courses over eight days to help maintain social distancing and give parents and running buddies many different options, including choosing their own route.”
Loper stressed the desire for the public to participate, adding that the event provides vital scholarships for the YMCA’s Girls on the Run and STRIDE programs. Registration is only $20, which includes a t-shirt, and the first 300 registrants also receive a free pair of socks.
“Far more valuable is the knowledge that supporting these important organizations means encouraging positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical development,” explained Loper. “In addition to running, participants benefit from coaches who guide and mentor them through a fun and uplifting curriculum that also includes discussion of important issues.”
To register, or to learn more about the 13th Annual (and First-Ever Virtual) EmergeOrtho 5k Race, visit runsignup.com/Race/NC/Wilmington/EmergeOrtho5k.