By Andrew Woolfolk
It is said that you must walk before you crawl.
For the Louisa Gators, they must walk before they can swim.
As a fundraiser for the team, which is set to enter its sixth season of competition this summer, the Gators will host their second annual and appropriately-named GatorAid 5K on Saturday, March 8.
“It’s a fun day for everyone,” the event’s director Paige Delbridge said. “It’s a fun family event. It’s something that everybody can participate in.”
As with last year, the race will start at the Mineral Volunteer Fire Department and span through the town. This year’s course will involve fewer hills to make the 3.1 miles a little more family friendly.
Gators co-chairman April Pekary said that she and her fellow event officials have put an effort into making this year’s 5K more enticing to members of the community, not just those directly involved with the Gator program.
“It is appealing to people who live in the community who want to do races but don’t want to travel all the way to Richmond or Charlottesville,” Pekary said. “It’s not a highly competitive race. You’re running 3.1 miles for fun, and it’s for a good cause.”
A preliminary goal of raising $8,000 has been set for this year’s event, with the proceeds going toward providing scholarships, financial assistance and new equipment for the Gators. The Gators program has helped hundreds of local swimmers ranging from five-to 18-years-old over the years.
According to the Gators website, the team prides itself in building self-esteem and promoting activity and good sportsmanship in its participants.
The cost for the race is $25 for February entrants, and $30 for those who wait until March. Registration on race day begins at 7:30 a.m., with the race starting at 9 a.m. A more relaxed, one-mile fun run will begin at 10 a.m. and costs only $10. All participants will be given race swag bags that contain coupons, water bottles, Gators t-shirts and other small gifts. A raffle for door prizes will also be held.
Last year’s inaugural event brought in around 150 participants, which is a number that Delbridge thinks will be easily eclipsed by this year’s race.
“It’s going to be bigger … based on the signups I’ve seen so far and the interest on the Internet,” Delbridge said.
So far, more than a dozen local businesses have signed up to sponsor the event, but both Delbridge and Pekary said they are on the lookout for more. The Gators are listed as a 501(c) (3) organization, meaning all contributions are tax deductible.
Anyone interested in participating in or sponsoring the event should visit Louisagators.org or email the Gators’ co-chairman Margaret Hiter at email@example.com.
The Gators’ season is set to begin in mid-May and will run through the end of July. Swimmers are not required to be residents of Louisa County.