The gathering soon turned into a celebration.
Senior Development Director for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Heather Perry of the Knoxville office announced volunteers, participants and supporters set a new fundraising record.
The combined efforts of all those involved raised over $88,000.
“Thank you everyone for your dedication,” Perry said. “I am so overwhelmed right now, and I am very rarely at a loss for words.”
She flashed a bright smile as she continued, “Really, sitting here in this room with everyone and seeing the community support is what inspires me.
“It is not just about 10 families who come together to do a walk. It is about a community that comes together to support our efforts in finding a cure. To remember the folks who have had to lay down their flag. We pick up their flags and carry them forward.”
Vanessa Hammond said the most significant amount of fundraising comes from the teams.
“We used to break these up into corporate teams and campus teams and CF family teams, but those are starting to mix and merge together,” Hammond said. “Some teams have runners and walkers ... They are all combining, which is a wonderful thing to see.”
She recognized the top six teams’ fundraising efforts.
- Life Care Centers of America raised over $3,600.
- Team Hannah raised over $4,000.
- Dalton’s Gang raised over $4,000.
- Hammond Family & Friends raised over $4,000.
- Life Care Center of Cleveland and Garden Plaza at Cleveland raised over $4,800 through nacho bars and dress-down days.
- Team Nathan raised over $6,300.
Organizer Mike Hayes said more than 300 people participated in the walk. There were 33 walk teams. He said both numbers are impressive for a town the size of Cleveland.
He recognized the top student volunteers from organizations and Greek clubs at Lee University.
According to race coordinator Bill Estes, there were 682 official runners at the early morning launch. He also announced the largest ever 1K fun run. The race reportedly raised $14,872 in fees and donations.
Added Estes, “This is becoming much more of a family event and more and more kids are coming out. It is a wonderful thing.”
He said 71 of the 155 volunteers participated in the race.
“Thank you for your help. To try and get  to 700 people registered in 45 minutes to an hour is a very difficult time,” Estes said. “We could not do it without that attention to detail.”
He highlighted the importance of community tie-ins. The community sponsors included: Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, Cleveland Utilities, CrossFit Gryphon, Hardee’s, Landmark Insurance Group, Brenda Lawson & Associates, Don Ledford Automotive Center, Mars Chocolate NA, Peerless Pediatrics, Regions Bank, Restoration Bible Church, Jim Rush Funeral Homes and Tennessee Valley Urology Centers PC.
One aspect of the race day proceedings was a great surprise to the organizers: Run Now Relay’s check presentation of $2,600. The money equated to $100 per each of the 26 participants. The group started the relay to Boston from the 65 Roses 5K start line.
“That was very humbling,” Estes said. “Again it is those [community] tie-ins that we have been able to relish. We’ve benefitted from them.”
Lee University President Dr. Paul Conn closed the luncheon with a word of thanks.
“This is a giving community. This is a community that has such energy to do good things,” Conn said. “Out of all that, you chose to get involved in the cystic fibrosis cause. On behalf of Lee University, on behalf of this partnership with the community, how much we appreciate it.”
Continued Conn, “It is so exciting for us, because of the many things our students could have chosen to participate in, and you as community leaders could have chosen to participate in, how much it means to us that cystic fibrosis is the object of our combined efforts.”