by Marion Williams, Ph.D. Ret
On Saturday, March 24, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Downtown Pensacola, approximately 300 people lined up to begin the annual Dogwood Dash Run.
Beginning at 140 W. Government and Spring Streets, the 2012 Dogwood Dash 5K Run & 1 Mile Fun Run started 7:45 a.m.
On a sun drenched Spring Day soul music played and families lined up to enjoy this annual Event. Producing some 300 Men, Women, Children and community participants, this family oriented Fun Race started at 9:00 a.m. The Day’s Events concluded at 11:45 a.m.
All of the proceeds from the 5K Run benefits the St. Joseph Free Medical Clinic, and the Sharing & Caring Ministry of the Church. The Clinic serves some 9,000 local clients while the Sharing & Caring Ministry served some 7,600 persons in 2011.
Sharing and Caring provides free food, basic items and clothing for the homeless, elderly and needy of the area.
In 1992, this ministry started as an outgrowth of the Thanksgivings Day meals serving to the lonely, homeless and elderly in the community. St. Joseph’s seeks to serve those in need in the downtown area.
The 5K Run Program kicked off at 7:45 a.m. with the Introduction of the morning singer Plummie Tart and Gabriel Brown, Gospel Choir Director. After a warm welcome by Dr. Marion Williams, Gabe Brown sang “Oh, What a Morning,” while Deacon Gene Pallone gave a heartwarming Prayer. The “Colors” were posted while Ms. Tart sang a soulful “National Anthem.”
Ted and Grace Ruckstuhl, Run organizers, made announcements prior to the start of the Race. A countdown followed, and they were off!
The 5K Course began at the Historic St. Joseph Church on West Government St. and proceeded eastward through downtown Pensacola to Bayfront Parkway to 12th Avenue and returned to Government St. along a marked trail.
At 8:30am a hot pancake breakfast was prepared by Dogwood Dash Volunteers for those registered for the races. All runners were timed as they crossed the finish line. Winners in each Age Category received ribbons and plaques for individual and group awards.
The Dogwood Dash Volunteers along with Ted and Grace received door prizes for the Drawings held at 10:00 a.m. Local merchants, businesses and donors were sought to provide assistance to make this another outstanding event.
The 1 Mile Fun Run occurred around 9:00 a.m. and produced some excellent young and the young-at-heart participants. It was exciting to see such wonderful efforts extended by kids, and their parents in this wholesome physical activity. This event taught children & adults alike that fair play, hard work and persistence does pay off. Not only did the St. Joseph Clinic win, the families, the warm friendly runners and supporters all showed what could be accomplished for the “Good of the Community”. Thank you Pensacola!
Volunteer Frank Eggleton, a Knight of Peter Claver and church activist, again served as Courtyard DJ and announcer of the Drawings and Race winners. Under the leadership of Ted and Grace, a host of volunteers worked hard to prepare registrations, serve as timers and recorders, set /removed the Run Course, acted as stage crews, recorded race winners with their posted times, and also acted as the hospitality crew. The volunteers also monitored the course for safety, cleaned up the grounds and Parish Hall, setup music and sound systems times. And finally, this event was under the watchful and helpful eye of the officers of the Pensacola Police Department. All present gave a 150%!
Dogwood Dash is a family affair for the Ruckstuls and the St. Joseph Church community. Although our participants were down this year due to “Spring Break” for local schools and competing other 5K Runs, Dogwood Dash is a Keeper.