HATTIESBURG HALF MARATHON TO BENEFIT 14 PINEBELT NONPROFITS, SET FOR SATURDAY, APRIL 4
“Forrest General is proud to be the presenting sponsor for this event. The health and well-being of our community is naturally very important to us,” Millie Swan, Vice President of Forrest Health, said. “The growth and popularity of the race, along with the new format, means numerous nonprofit organizations are able to raise awareness and additional funding. On top of that, it’s just plain fun—and a healthy way to spend your morning. We encourage everyone to come out and participate as a runner, volunteer, or donor.”
In 2019 the race, changed the running course, added a 10k, and drew in an additional 400 runners. Not only did the race see participation grow last year, but the fundraising component kicked-off with a strong first year. “Raising more than $200,000 exceeded all expectations. I was so proud of the 14 nonprofits’ fundraising efforts and overwhelmed with their dedication to the race. The race offered the nonprofits a platform to raise this kind of money, yet the race could not have been such a huge success without their help. It was a win-win situation that we will continue for years to come,” Rhonda Hayden, Development Director for Pinebelt Foundation, said. In previous years, the race served as a fundraiser for one nonprofit – the ARC of Southeast Mississippi. However in 2019, the fundraising component of the race was revamped as “Gives Miles,” which raised more than $200,000 for the participating nonprofit organizations in its inaugural year. Under this program, nonprofits manage a mile of the race by decorating it, offering racecourse entertainment, and providing volunteers to help with water stations, traffic control, and safety for the runners. These nonprofits fundraise through recruiting mile sponsors and charity runners who select them as a beneficiary.
In order of location along the route, benefitting charities include: Pinebelt Foundation, Downtown Hattiesburg Association, Sacred Heart Catholic School, Laughs 4 Life, 3-D School, Presbyterian Christian School, Christian Men and Women’s Job Corp., Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera, Habitat For Humanity, Kids Hub, Laurel Christian School, Southern Pines Animal Shelter, R3SM, and ARC of Southeast Mississippi.
The race will take runners on a tour of the city as the course highlights some of Hattiesburg’s iconic landmarks and engages local businesses. The course will start and finish at the Historic Hattiesburg Saenger Theater, wind through downtown, head toward The Avenues, and loop around the Hattiesburg Zoo. A portion of the route tours The University of Southern Mississippi’s campus before runners blaze down the Longleaf Trace to the finish line.
“This annual springtime tradition promotes healthy living and community philanthropy, and the Pinebelt Foundation is grateful for the support from Forrest General Hospital as the title sponsor of the race. We are committed to growing this incredible event and invite friends, neighbors, and businesses to show up on race day and support the runners and the benefitting nonprofits,” Mike Dixon, Executive Director of Pinebelt Foundation, said.
Additionally, the Pinebelt Foundation is focusing on the positive economic impact such a race can have on Hattiesburg. The Foundation is working closely with the City of Hattiesburg, VisitHATTIESBURG, Forrest General Hospital, and numerous local businesses to attract runners to Hattiesburg and ensure all their race-related needs are met.
“The Hattiesburg Half Marathon has been highly successful. As a VisitHATTIESBURG Tourism Grant recipient, the race has attracted numerous runners from surrounding states who can enjoy an array of great places to eat and play during their stay with us. We believe the runners will also enjoy the race route, which includes several of Hattiesburg's iconic attractions and hotspots,” Marlo Dorsey, Executive Director of VisitHATTIESBURG, said. The race will offer a full marathon option in 2021, allowing 27 charities to benefit, more runners to participate, and the District at Midtown to be included in the course. More information about the Hattiesburg Half Marathon, registration options, and nonprofit details can be found at hburghalfmarathon.com.