Runners and walkers will have a chance to support local Special Olympics athletes through an annual 5K held by the Morris Police Department and set for Saturday, Oct. 13.
According to Race Director Officer Steve Huettemann, the department's Run the Beat 5K was started in 2003 as a benefit for Special Olympics, but this year will be the first year that funds will go to a local charity — Special Connections of Grundy County.
He said that while some funding from Special Olympics helps Special Connections athletes, there are more needs that aren't covered fully, like travel to events.
"I thought it'd be best to keep the money local, so it's easier for them to participate," he said. "I'd rather see the money spent locally."
Jennifer Price, board president of Special Connections of Grundy County, said her organization is excited about being selected as the run's beneficiary and to be involved in the race.
"In the past, the Run the Beat proceeds have benefited Special Olympics of Illinois, which is a wonderful organization," she said. "All the funds go to the state, so a lot of our local athletes (have) not seen the proceeds."
Price said the proceeds will be able to go to Special Connections' Special Olympics program, going toward uniforms and equipment for athletes, as well as to help cover travel costs. She said Special Connections also offers grants for families who may not be otherwise able to afford to participate.
Area Special Olympics participants will be at the race, as will Morris Police Department personnel. Special Connections volunteers and athletes will also be selling $20 raffle tickets at the race for a zero-turn mower, Price said.
Online registration for the 5K has closed, however race-day registration will start at 7 a.m. The chip-timed race is $30, and starts at 9 a.m. from the Union Street entrance to Goold Park, across the street from Morris Community High School. Long-sleeved shirts will be given to participants while available.
Huettemann said there will also be a two-mile walk at the same time and, following the 5K race, before the awards ceremony, there will be an 800-meter dash for children.
Following the race, hot dogs and doughnuts are provided through donations from Walmart, while water and sports drinks are being donated by Healthsmart. A local DJ will be playing music.
Huettemann said the race tends to draw between 200 and 220 people a year on average, and this year more are anticipated.
"We're excited to have more for the Run 4 Morris campaign," he said, indicating the series of Morris runs that started this year. Run the Beat is the circuit's final 5K event of the year.