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The sweetest race

First Chocolate Run 5K promises a tasty time

The sweetest race

The sweetest race

    The promise of sweet treats and a charitable cause will be the draw for hundreds of people flocking to downtown Statesboro on Feb. 23.
    There, the nonprofit Open Hearts Community Mission and Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Bulloch Class of 2012 will host the first “Chocolate Run 5K: Statesboro’s Sweetest Race.”
    The run will raise money to benefit Open Hearts Community Mission, a faith-based organization that serves Bulloch County’s homeless population.
    For runners, the 5K will live up to its “Sweetest Race” claim from start to finish, according to Jennifer Douglas, a member of the Leadership Bulloch class facilitating the event.
    “Some of the perks of the race include plenty of chocolate,” Douglas said. “Before, during and after the race, there will be chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate, s’mores and more sweets given away.
    “The runners will be spoiled throughout the race,” she said.
    Vendor booths, music and activities for families will be included in the festivities surrounding the start and finish lines, located near City Hall.
    Registration for the event includes a free T-shirt, and can be completed online, or in person, through the start of the race. Early registration — a period lasting through Feb. 3 — is $20 and will guarantee a commemorative shirt. Registration is $25 after Feb. 13, while registration for a 1K Fun Run will cost $10.
    The race will start at 9 a.m. Feb. 23.
    Douglas said 2012 Leadership Bulloch members will host the event as part of a class project.
    “When (the Leadership Bulloch Class) started meeting, our main objective was to do something that would have a legacy. We wanted to do something that could grow and continue to help people even after we graduated,” she said.
    Leadership Bulloch is a Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce program that identifies and encourages young business leaders to learn more about their community. The members are encouraged to become active participants in local issues and take on government roles.
    Douglas said the group chose to help Open Hearts Mission because of the important work the nonprofit does within the community.
    Open Hearts aims to “feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and restore the downtrodden” in and around Bulloch County, according to its organizational mission.
    “(Open Hearts) is funded solely by 11 local churches and has served about 235 people since August of last year. They don’t give handouts; they help people get back on their feet,” Douglas said. “We were able to hear (Open Hearts Director) Delia Mobley speak at an Exchange Club of Statesboro meeting and became very interested in their philosophy and business model. They had already talked about doing a 5K, but did not have the people and resources to make it happen. So, our class stepped-in to help.”
    The money raised will be designated for a 40-bed temporary living facility that Open Hearts plans to operate.
    The facility would provide a place where Open Hearts can “give people a place to stay, provide counseling, and help the homeless with career services,” Douglas said.
    To even be considered for Open Hearts assistance, interested people must apply, pass a background check and drug test, and take several steps to find employment and save money, she said.
    As of Wednesday, 120 people were registered to participate in Chocolate Run 5K. Douglas said about 300 runners are expected to sign up and that funds have already exceeded Leaderships Bulloch’s goal.
    To register, or learn more about the 5K, visit or “Like” the Chocolate Run page on Facebook.
    Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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