The 5th annual HOLLA! 5K produced winners and winning moments May 11 as the community rallied around a central cause.
“We started it to raise awareness and funding for our programs, especially our literacy and fitness programs,” said Leon Gatewood, HOLLA!’s founder and CEO. “We believe a more literate and physically fit community is a more powerful community.”
Robert Gatewood traveled from Washington, D.C., to host the event. He is owner of Gatewood Marketing, and the brother of Leon Gatewood.
“It was truly rewarding to contribute to an event that was so rich in positive symbolism,” he said. “The diversity of the participants was the embodiment of the iconic rainbow; and it reminded me of the treasure that awaits our children when we unite around a noble objective and advance our children over the finish line.”
The overall goal of the 5K is community outreach.
“We want people to know we’re here and that working together we can make our community as great as any community in the state; but working together is a must,” Leon Gatewood said.
The 5K brought over 150 people to sign in, and over 60 to actually participate in the race.
Participants praised the event for its organization, entertainment and host community. Finish Well Timing was the official timer.
Richard Ferguson, who registered as a Morven resident, won the race for the third year in a row, covering the distance in 22 minutes, 39.81 seconds. Anson Middle School teachers Brandon Smith and Landis Shoffner followed in second and third places, respectively.
“I would like to donate this back to HOLLA! that does so much for this community,” he said, referring to the $100 cash prize.
Awards were also presented in various age groups. They included Malachi Smith, 12 and under; Breana Ball, 13-20; Mat Brinson, 21-35; Anne Hyatt, 36-50; and Paul Emmerling, 51 plus.
Felishia McRae finished last in the race, but finished strong. She crossed the finish line nearly two hours after the race started. Using a walker, McRae was met at the finish line by nearly half of the participants cheering her on as she arrived.
On her Facebook post, McRae, who suffers from a painful physical ailment, thanked Sheriff Landric Reid and Johnie Pettiford who checked on her throughout the race.
“This day changed my life,” McRae said. “It’s not how you start; it’s not about what obstacles you were facing or had to endure while you are on your progress to get there; it’s not about how long it took to get there; but it’s all about you being able to finish and conquer your goals and dreams, which will cause you to win by any means necessary.”
McRae went on to say that she was sure that everyone would be gone when she finally got to the finish line.
“When I saw so many people cheering for me when I arrived, it felt so good,” she added. “I am not just a witness; I am a winner.”
“It is rare to see so much support for the last person to finish the race,” said Starr Dowell, of Finish Well Timing. “Sometimes, we’re the only ones left.”
Anson Middle School won the best T-shirt prize, which was a gift bag from the Charlotte Knights that included tickets to seats on Duke Row at the May 24 home game. The school also won a HOLLA! party for being the school with the most attendance.
Peachland/Polkton Elementary School won the HOLLA! 5K Accelerated Reading Challenge with a total score of 13,255.4 points; while Ansonville Elementary came in second with 5,244 points.
Olivia Marsh of Ansonville Elementary was the individual winner with 407.2 points. Beverly Eddins placed second with 378.6 points. The reading challenge invites elementary schools to compete with reading the most books during a certain period prescribed by HOLLA!.
Olivia’s Art Gallery in Raleigh donated a pair of custom earrings to the first mother to register. Delores Sturdivant, Regina M. Ratliff and Tonja Smith arrived simultaneously and each will receive a pair.
Following the 5K, Coach Harvey Johnson of Washington, D.C., offered a two-hour seminar on improving health and fitness. Harvey said that he was impressed by the 5K’s diversity. “You guys have a good thing going here,” he said.
“To a large extent, the event did exactly what we wanted and needed it to do,” said Leon Gatewood. “It brought our diverse Anson County and surrounding communities together to a place called Morven that has a tough reputation, but is no less than anywhere else in the region.”
He went on to say that Morven has produced, and is still producing, some of society’s finest.
“I would like to thank all of the volunteers, participants and donors who came together to make this event successful, and offer special thanks to the planning committee for this event,” Leon Gatewood said. “They planned their work and worked their plan; and this was our most organized and successful event to date.”
He also offered special thanks to the Anson County Sheriff’s Office; the town of Morven; Gatewood Insurance and Real Estate (the title sponsor); Poisson, Poisson and Bower; Anson Middle School; Anson High School Class of ’75; The Spirit in Motion Line Dancers; Nelson Funeral Home; Minister Ted Ward; and the HOLLA! volunteers for going above and beyond supporting the event.
Other supporters and teams included Just for You Barber Shop; Best Tax Service; Angela Collins Myers and Team Success; Anson Women’s League; Cedar Baptist Creek Church; Sandy Ridge Baptist Church; Smith’s Funeral Home; Quality Florist; Chesterfield County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.; The National Association of University Women; Scott Forbes; Bowman High School Class of ’76; Anson County Domestic Violence; Commissioner Ross Streater; The Caraway Foundation; Hornwood, Inc.; Judge Sophia Crawford; Katheryn McLeod; Bob Stowe; Mid-Southeastern HVAC; the Ellerbys; Howard McLean; and the Woodburns.
HOLLA! also thanked several individual participants who signed up to participate.