Third annual Riverbend 5K Run/Walk for MS Sept. 15
WEST BRANCH — The third annual Riverbend 5K Run/Walk will be held at the West Branch Community Center Sept. 15, once again raising funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Michigan.
According to event organizer Heather Orlando, the event will begin with a 5K run through town at 9:30 a.m., with a 5K walk beginning shortly after. A fun run for kids is scheduled to start at 11 a.m.
She said the run/walk will take participants through the paved river trail and residential areas in West Branch, as intersections will be patrolled by volunteers to help keep participants safe. There will also be water and rest stations along the way.
“We’ve had great support from the local community and businesses in putting on this event,” Orlando said. “I plan on holding this event for many years to come, but it’s still a learning experience for me and I’m always looking for little things to tweak.”
Orlando said participants in the 5K run will be split into nine different age brackets, with the top three finishers in each bracket earning medals.
In addition to the run/walk events, Orlando said there will be a MS wellness expo at the community center during the event. She said representatives from many local businesses and medical experts will be manning booths at the expo, as people can learn more about MS and services for MS patients.
“MS can affect people in many different ways,” Orlando said. “From vision to dental to physical issues, the effects of MS are different for everybody. I want to capture those problems and help educate people on the disease.”
Orlando has firsthand knowledge of the disease, as her husband Stefan was diagnosed with MS four years ago. She also sees the effects of MS on a daily basis in her work as a nurse at Bortz Health Care in West Branch.
“I’ve seen firsthand how the disease works and how it can affect people,” Orlando said. “Not a lot of people really know how MS works and how prevalent it is. You ask people if they know what a pink ribbon means, and they’ll tell you it’s for breast cancer. You ask them if they know what an orange ribbon means, and they don’t know it’s in support of MS.”
She said her husband’s diagnosis led her to hold the first edition of the event in 2010.
Since then, Orlando said support for the event has grown every year, and so have the funds raised for MS.
“We raised close to $6,000 last year,” Orlando said. “People have been very generous with their donations to MS and in their support for the event.”
Despite the success, Orlando said she was nervous when planning the first run/walk.
“I was a little apprehensive at first, because I didn’t know how it was going to turn out,” Orlando said. “I’m still learning as I go, but hopefully by holding this event, we’ll help find a cure for this disease.”
To participate in any event, Orlando said it costs a minimum donation of $25 per adult, $10 per child or $50 for a family of four.
Interested parties can sign up in person for the race at Stephenson, Gracik & Co. in West Branch anytime before the day of the event. People can also print off a registration form from the event’s website or register the day of the event until 9 a.m.
For more information, visit www.runningfoundation.com/riverbend5k or call Orlando at 989-225-9213.