JA’s Race to Achieve

Nonprofit’s popular fundraiser has just three more days for its pre-registration

By RICK NORTON Associate Editor
Posted 8/8/16

Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region is looking to make tracks to the mind by using the feet in the respected nonprofit’s third annual 5K Race to Achieve and 1K Fun Run.

Scheduled for …

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JA’s Race to Achieve

Nonprofit’s popular fundraiser has just three more days for its pre-registration


Junior Achievement of the Ocoee Region is looking to make tracks to the mind by using the feet in the respected nonprofit’s third annual 5K Race to Achieve and 1K Fun Run.

Scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 27, at Tinsley Park along the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway, the growing event was named with purpose, according to Melanie Connatser, president of the local JA affiliate.

It’s not just a foot race for athletes, and it’s not all about medals and glory. It’s a trek into the future whose key vessel is education.

Set to get underway at 8 a.m., the event is open to all — men and women, boys and girls, and runners and walkers, and even outdoor enthusiasts whose pace is somewhere in between, Connatser pointed out.

She also stressed this reminder: Deadline for pre-registration is Wednesday. All runners and walkers who pre-register sometime within the next three days will get a free Race to Achieve T-shirt, she explained.

Registration can be completed using two methods. One, participants can register online at www.active.com; or two, they can call the local JA office at 614-8777.

“This 5K race is open to all ages,” Connatser said. “We invite everyone to come out to run or walk. Come at your own pace!”

The JA leader, alongside JA board of directors Chair Bethany McCoy, are also excited about the third-year event attaining an advanced level.

“Junior Achievement’s 5K Race to Achieve is a sanctioned event this year — sanctioned by USA Track & Field,” she stressed. “The course has also been certified; that means it has been accurately measured for the 5K race.”

Connatser added, “Having a USATF-sanctioned race is ideal for many of our local runners to accurately track their time and distance.”

McCoy agreed, and she pointed to a new teammate.

“We’re so excited to partner with Terra Running Company this year, allowing us to feature Chronotrack Chip Timing,” the board chair said. “We believe this will help to take our race to the next level. Exciting things are happening at Junior Achievement, but they can’t happen without the support of the businesses and citizens of the communities we serve.”

And that’s the other part of the JA story — the future, and how it relies on community partners like companies, businesses, industries and organizations who provide funding, classroom volunteers and assistance with fundraising.

“Junior Achievement has an exciting year ahead,” McCoy said. “We are looking at extending our reach into McMinn and Monroe counties, and will still be expanding our services in Bradley, Polk and Meigs counties. Our annual 5K is just one of the ways we can achieve these operating goals.”

Connatser said it’s no coincidence the annual fundraiser, fitness builder and team exercise is happening in August.

“You might say Junior Achievement is running back to school to help raise support for our financial literacy, career readiness and entrepreneurship programs,” Connatser pointed out.

It’s not by chance they’re running. This year, JA hopes to reach more than 4,300 students in local classrooms.

And that’s yet another incentive to participate in the Race to Achieve, she offered.

It’s also about free school supplies and a cash prize for the winning school track team.

“Junior Achievement wants to give back to our students, and we’re doing it with the help of two well-established businesses — Key Advertising Inc. and First Tennessee Bank,” Connatser explained.

Here’s what they’re doing.

Sponsored by Key Advertising, the first 50 students who register for the 5K run (by Wednesday) will receive a free backpack filled with school supplies. Connatser called it a “generous” and “appropriate” incentive provided by the local advertising firm.

Also, First Tennessee Bank will give a $250 prize to the school track team that crosses the finish line first.

“Now that school is back in session, this is a wonderful approach to the new season and to building bodies and teamwork,” Connatser advised. “So, over the next three days we encourage students to pre-register and to get their track or cross-country teams together in order to participate.”

Connatser also pointed to the growing number of local sponsors who support Junior Achievement, and who also are getting on board with Race to Achieve.

“Their generous support, and their participation, in the 5K race will help JA to continue our mission and to expand our programs in our local schools,” she said.

Publix is serving as the 5K Race to Achieve presenting sponsor and Cleveland State Community College is the event’s official sponsor.

“Publix and Cleveland State Community College are proven partners to Junior Achievement,” Connatser pointed out. “Without them, and without businesses and organizations like them, we could not provide the kind of classroom outreach that we do in the five-county area.”

Other sponsors include Terra Running Company, Bowater Employee Credit Union, Logan Thompson PC, Physicians Care of Cleveland, Tennova Healthcare, John Milne, First Tennessee Bank, Key Advertising Inc., Peyton’s Southeastern, Surf’s Up Car Wash, Cooper & Cooper Investments/Advisors of Raymond James, Eric Evans State Farm, Nancy Casson, FarmCredit Mid-America, Regions Bank, Southern Heritage Bank, Advantage Resourcing, East-West Media, WTNB-TV and Gabriel’s Pizza.

She also credited Mix 104 WCLE for broadcast coverage of the event and for radio station owner Steve Hartline serving as the event’s emcee.

Connatser urged Race to Achieve participants to follow JA of the Ocoee Region on Facebook for latest updates about the race. Also, she stressed race packets should be picked up at either of two locations on the day before the event.

“Participants can pick up their race packets at Gabriel’s Pizza on Friday, Aug. 26, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” Connatser explained. “Enjoy some pizza and pick up your race bib and T-shirt. Participants can also pick up their race packets at Terra Running Company on the same day from 4 to 6 p.m.”

It’s all about fun. It’s all about fundraising. It’s all about community awareness. And, added Connatser, it’s also about bringing people together under a common cause.

“Junior Achievement’s 5K Race to Achieve does exactly what Junior Achievement does as an organization,” she noted. “It brings local businesses, students and communities together to have a great morning — while improving wellness — and to help to make our JA programs possible for our local youth.”

Of the proceeds received from Race to Achieve, “... 100 percent will be used to help JA reach 4,300 students during the 2016-17 school year,” Connatser said.

For those unfamiliar with JA’s role, it’s all about young students and young minds.

“Students have an opportunity to learn from volunteers who serve as role models and mentors to learn how to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic choices,” Connatser stated. “Junior Achievement teaches students about the real world and the 5K Race to Achieve is the perfect opportunity to raise funds for our programs while allowing the community to have a great and healthy time.”

The JA president stressed the three key themes to Junior Achievement: Preparing students for the workforce, equipping them with financial literacy and helping them to learn entrepreneurship skills.

“Through our volunteers serving as mentors and advocates for our students, we want students to learn valuable money lessons now before it’s too late,” Connatser said. “We want to show them what is possible and inspire our students to dream and to know that they can make a difference.”


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