GALLERY: Funds from Candyland 5K distributed to local track programs

Published 7:30 am Friday, March 4, 2022

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The 2021 Candyland Half Marathon and 5K raised $14,000 this past holiday and the Kiwanis Club has been dispersing those funds back to local schools’ track and cross country programs.

“This was our sixth annual Candyland Half Marathon and 5K event sponsored by the Andalusia Kiwanis Club. We put the money we raised directly back into the hands of the running coaches on Monday, Feb. 28 at the AKC meeting. This will be used by the coaches for purchasing equipment, travel to competitions, and for other required expenses. We sponsored six schools this year: Straughn, Florala, Red Level, Pleasant Home, Opp, and Kinston,” Coordinator Jennifer O’Neal said.

O’Neal reported a total of 260 runners in the 2021 event. “We had 80 participants in the half marathons, 123 in the 5K, 45 walkers, and 12 kids for the fun run. Our furthest participant traveled all the way from Spokane, Washington. We also had participants from many cities in Alabama. The states represented were North Carolina, Arizona, New York, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Florida.”

The half winner covering 13.1 miles was Tucker Reynolds with a final time of 1:33.10. Reynolds is a Straughn High School graduate running track on scholarship at the University of Mobile. The ladies’ half marathon winner was Maya Espinosa, who is a member of the Florida State University cross-country team. Her final time was 1:34.27. In the 5K race, which covered 3.1 miles, Alex Garrison of Elba finished in 20:00. Holli Anderson of Samson had a time of 27:57.

“This event required approximately 100 volunteers. All recipient schools and Andalusia High School provided volunteers. LBW provided us with help from many volunteers also. We had 50 sponsors who helped by donating money and/or supplies this year. We are so grateful to love in this generous community, and some of these businesses and individuals have backed us each and every event. We are aware that businesses are being asked by so many for wonderful causes. It’s amazing to continue to see people giving so freely,” she said.

O’Neal added that they were pleased to have others contribute in different ways. “TherapySouth attended and gave post-race athlete support. In addition, EmPower Nutrition served healthy sports drinks to our participants. The kids were also able to enjoy face painting and take pictures with Santa Claus.”

Preparations are underway for the next event, which is scheduled for Dec. 10, 2022.

For more information call Jennifer O’Neal at 334-488-6333. “We thank you all for your continued support with our annual Candyland Half Marathon and 5K event. We are looking forward to hosting it again at the end of this year. Please contact me if you are interested in helping in any way,” O’Neal said.