When most college students think of Texasâ€™ South Padre Island during Spring Break, they imagine gold soaked beaches, tons of tropical drinks and herds of fellow college students looking to party 24/7.Â
But for the Young Adults Ministry of Timberline Church, Spring Break in South Padre is about providing a safe environment for vacationers. The organization provides free breakfasts, water, sunscreen and other amenities to students on vacationing on the island.
In order to raise money for the program to send more volunteers to the island this break, which takes place March 12-18, the ministry will host its Nine70 Run Walk on Saturday.
More than 200 people raced for Beach Reach last year, allowing the 30-year-old organization to send more than 50 church volunteers, according to Jen Zander, Timberline Church administrative assistant. Participants pay their way. $850 sends one student down to South Padre as part of the program, making funding for the annual trip a pinnacle concern.Â
The 5K event will start at CSUâ€™s historic Oval, with registration beginning at 7 a.m. then followed by the race, which begins at 9 a.m.
The benefit is open to competitive and non-competitive runners and walkers, with prizes for the fastest times in the men and womenâ€™s categories, ranging from $100 for first place to $50 for third place.
Jackie Spradley, event creator and coordinator, has a team of 10 to help her bring the run to life.
Spradleyâ€™s daughter Sara has been involved in the program for three years.Â She believes the project is one of most unique out there.
â€œI think itâ€™s amazing. They make connections with their peers and some become good friends,â€ Jackie said.
The race route will take competitors from the Oval to the Lory Student Center.Â From there, it will continue west down West Plum Street and past Moby Arena, circling back down to South Drive past the Academic Village and finishing past the Lory Student Center with a lap around the Oval.Â
â€œThe trip cost each participant $850 last year, our goal is to reduce that cost as much as possible,â€ Spradley said.
The proceeds from the organizationâ€™s last race, which ran in February, provided each participant with $100 spending money and paid for the first night of lodging and supplemental meals for last yearâ€™s trip, according to Spradley.
Beach Reach has expanded its services to Panama Beach, Fla., according to its website, http://beachreach.org.Â The website also said the program sent 375 volunteers in the spring of 2008, a number that is continuously growing.
â€œOne year, they picked a girl up from the bars who also attended CSU,â€ Spradley said.Â â€œShe got to talking to my daughter, and the next year she volunteered with the program.â€
Pre-registration for the event can be done at Runnerâ€™s Roost off of Harmony Road as well as the church prior to race day, with a $5 fee added to registrations on Saturday morning.
Staff writer Sean Bucher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.