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Adventist-sponsored 5K Fun Run/Walk Impacts Ocala

posted on January 10, 2013, under Church by

by Marya Latson

Race participants pound the pavement on the 5K course through the streets of Ocala. (Photo: John Latson)

Before sunrise on December 16, 2012, more than 100 individuals gathered at Citizens’ Circle in Ocala, Fla., to participate in the 1st Annual Stop Drug Abuse: SDA Project Ocala 5K Fun Run/Walk. This race rallied young and old in the cause to obliterate substance abuse.

An avid marathon runner, Pastor Matthew Christo enlisted help from members of his two churches, Silver Springs Shores and Marion Oaks, to sponsor the run/walk through the city’s historic district. “Seventh-day Adventists,” exclaimed Pastor Christo, “have a faith that is not only concerned about relevant, societal issues, but one that promotes health, fitness, and fun as alternatives to drugs and alcohol.”

These runners were the first five to cross the 5K Fun Run/Walk finish line. (Photo: Joe Newman)

The theme of stopping drug abuse attracted nonAdventists like Valerie Wells, a counselor at Marion Charter School and students from the school’s Fit Club. While those youngsters, like six-year old Brandon O’Hara, had signed a pledge to remain drug free, Brandon said he also entered the race to run and have fun.

The oldest race participant was 86 years old and, with arthritic knees, walked the entire route arm in arm with two companions. The youngest runner was five years old. In addition, members from four different counties, representing eight Adventist Churches, were among those who participated.

Others rolled like 21-month-old Syania Grant whose parents, Delorme and Melesia Grant, pushed her in a stroller. As they neared the finish line, Melesia proclaimed, “As Adventists, we’re not just about the Sabbath, we’re about every day of the week, and our doors are open to everyone!”

More than 100 participants, ranging in age from 5 to 86, completed the 5K Fun Run/Walk. (Photo: John Latson)


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