“When my student had colon cancer and became an eight-time cancer survivor, you can’t say, ‘No,’” said Wilhite, last year’s event chair.
While the Relay for Life may be the most recognized name in local and national charity walks, there are a number of other events held in Southern Maryland that improve the participant’s health while also raising funds to help others.
Among them are local walks to help alleviate breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and low-birth weight babies, and two additional walks that raise funds for charities while also striving to promote health and wellness.
In its second year, the College of Southern Maryland’s Turkey Trot 5K and 1K Run/Walk is one of several fall-season walks. The Sunday, Nov. 18 event allows participants to walk or run on the roads of the college, providing a scenic tour of the La Plata campus. Entry donations support the college Foundation and the American Cancer Society, said event organizer Jane Pomponio.
In another fall walk, participants can support a worthy cause while also experiencing a pleasant route along a Calvert County waterway, said Cindy Schelhorn of the Alzheimer's Association’s National Capital Area Chapter.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s occurs in Solomons and Waldorf on the same day in September, said Schelhorn. This year’s walk was Sept. 15. The Calvert walk begins at Asbury-Solomons while the Charles event is held at Regency Furniture Stadium. Participants may choose a 1- or 3-mile route.
Also in Solomons this fall, Calvert Memorial Hospital will host the 3rd Annual 5K Breast Cancer Challenge on Oct. 13. The walk benefits the Center for Breast Care at the hospital, and last year raised nearly $18,000. Another walk focused on breast cancer occurs for the seventh year in Indian Head on Oct. 13. Live music, warm-ups, vendors, lunch, door prizes and raffles are part of the festivities at the Village Green Pavilion, while the three-mile walk takes place on the Indian Head Rail Trail.
Civista Health’s annual 5K Run/Walk for Wellness has been a hospital Foundation fundraiser for nearly 20 years and is usually held in the spring, said Laura Castle. The event typically draws 300-400 people, she said.
Wilhite said last year’s Relay for Life event in St. Mary’s County, held in early June, “had a fantastic turnout of 1,300 registered participants” and that the event has raised $300,000 so far.
Relay for Life events are also held in Calvert and Charles counties in spring and early summer. Participants walk around display-lined school tracks or, in Charles County, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs’ playing field. They can walk for as long as they’d like, from early evening one day to the next morning.
Like Wilhite, Jennifer Abell also began coordinating a charity walk due to her concern for a specific cause – low-birth weight and premature babies. Abell has worked with the March of Dimes WalkAmerica/March for Babies 5K Walk for ten years, she said. One of her own children was born prematurely and that’s what has driven her to help other parents in similar situations.
“My daughter was born premature,” said Abell. “She was nine weeks early – 3 pounds, 6 ounces – and she’s 15 years old now and ... one of the primary volunteers [for the walk].”
The March of Dimes walk is generally held either the last weekend in April or the first weekend of May, said Abell, adding that a tri-county walk will launch next year at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf. Abell said the walkers begin and end at the stadium, but that the walk is through the tree-lined streets of St. Charles. ✦
Walk for a Good Cause
There are a number of charity walks throughout the region, but dates and times may change year to year. To get started, check out the following annual walks:
American Cancer Society Relay for Life
Calvert County: held in June at Hallowing Point Park; Charles County: held in May at Regency Furniture Stadium; St. Mary’s County: held in June at Leonardtown High School. 1-800-ACS-2345; http://www.cancer.org.
CMH 5K Breast Cancer Challenge
Solomons on Saturday, Oct. 13.
Civista’s Annual 5K Run/Walk
Held in May starting at the hospital in La Plata. 301-609-4319; http://www.civista.org/foundationpgs/new/foundation_runwalk.html.
Indian Head Breast Cancer Awareness Fitness Walk
Indian Head Village Green, Oct. 13. 301-743-2125.
March of Dimes March for Babies 5K Walk
Held in May at Regency Furniture Stadium.
Walk to End Alzheimer's
Two events held in Southern Maryland in September: Asbury, Solomons and Regency Furniture Stadium, Waldorf. 703-359-4440; email@example.com; http://act.alz.org.
Other organizations that usually hold walks in the area include the National Down Syndrome Society (http://www.buddywalk.org), Hospice of St. Mary’s (http://www.stmaryshospitalmd.org/hospice) and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (http://www.cff.org). Check their websites for more information.
Note: This may not be a complete list. Please let us know if we missed any event.