With the blessing of some good weather and the seasonal touches of Halloween, the Garfield School PTA 5K Zombie Chase saw a significant boost to the number of participants and dollars raised in the second year of the event.
According to co-organizer Gregg Sipp, the Zombie Chase brought in around $5,000 (and cleared around $4,000) for the school PTA, which benefits some 120-plus students at the elementary school.
"We pay for every student's field trips: the buses, the tickets. That way no one is left out," Sipp said.
"We now are starting to build a little bit of a nest egg where we can put that towards some different things that the facility maybe can't afford on their own," he said.
Make it an annual thing
Sipp pointed to the number of returning sponsors as being instrumental to the success of the event. They include the P.J. Whelihan's family of restaurants and pubs, such as Treno and The Pour House; Blake-Doyle Funeral Home—which had originally planned to offer trick-or-treating from the back of its hearse!—and Westmont Hardware.
"We had almost every one of our sponsors come back, which is pretty amazing for a small-town thing," Sipp said.
By the numbers, the event registered 115 runners and 15 corporate sponsors. An additional 16 families signed up for the kid-friendly Trick or Treat Walk.
High-school volunteers came out for the day, distributing candy to trick-or-treaters and water to those at relief stations, said Sipp, who was proud of their efforts. He also singled out for praise co-organizer Dave Sullenberger, who "put a ton of legwork into it.
"He gets the town involved, the DPW, makes sure that the police are okay with it and get them all organized," Sipp said.
It's not The Walking Dead
Sipp, a health and physical education teacher at Eastern High School in Voorhees, said the PTA settled on the idea "bantering about themes" for a 5K fundraiser.
"If you go on websites, every weekend there are five to 10 runs within a 20-mile radius," he said. "What do you do to stand out? You put something that's close to someone that's interesting.
"We needed a large fundraiser and felt that, well if we could corner this niche, hopefully make it an annual thing, then people will look forward to it," Sipp added, taking care to mention that he has never seen The Walking Dead.
"It's tongue-in-cheek," he said. "It's not-run for-your-life zombie stuff where the zombies are coming at you. It's a Halloween costume run. We had fun with it."
The runners had fun with it too, including Jim Angehr of Collingswood, who offered these remarks by email:
I've been training moderately hard, and as a result raced my fastest 5K ever, including some runs before the surgical reconstruction of my left knee three years ago. But really, it was my zombie makeup that put me over the top. One runs faster and therefore lighter when unencumbered by a soul.