By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP – The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan is mixing things up this year.
The group that runs a sanctuary for cats and dogs plans on holding a 5K fun run/walk Saturday at Silver Beach Center in the hopes of raising money for food and animal care. Registration begins at 8 a.m., while the 5K starts at 9 a.m.
Jill Svoboda, Humane Society executive director and 5K chair, said this year’s run will be different from last year.
“This is our second one; we did an Eastern Harbor Hop with Easter eggs last year,” she said. “This year we are giving free carousel rides to all participants, face painters, magicians and other kids activities.”
The activities are free to those who register with the exception of the face painters, who will be accepting donations for the animals. There will also be a bake sale in the morning of the 5K in case a runner misses breakfast. Svoboda said they have volunteers who are making baked goods to sell for the animals.
All registered participants get a “swag bag” donated from Honor Credit Union, the main sponsor of the 5K. Svoboda said the United Federal Credit Union is the sponsor of the activities for participants and children.
“This has taken months of planning,” Svoboda said. “All of the proceeds go back to the animals. There is really no expense to us since the banks are sponsoring the event. We work on a shoestring budget.”
Each 5K participant pays $25, which will go into food for the animals.
Svoboda said the event has collected about 100 runners so far, but is expecting more to sign up the day of the event. Those who register the day of must pay in cash or by check. The prices stay the same for late registration.
There is no cap on runners for the 5K, though Svoboda said the city of St. Joe told her they could handle 400 people.
“Last year we had upwards of 200,” she said. “So, we are good to go.”
While runners can take their dogs on the route, Svoboda said animals will not be allowed inside the Silver Beach Center, per their request.
As co-chair of the 5K event, Kelly Nate has spent the better part of five months planning activities. She said the new location of the 5K was a long time in the making.
“Silver Beach Center actually did approach us. We had been trying to put together an event with them,” she said. “We held one at the carousel six years ago – the first year they opened. But we haven’t had one since and this happened to be the right fit.
As for next year, Svoboda said there is no telling whether the 5K will continue to move each year.
“It depends on the success of this one,” she said. “So many 5Ks take place in downtown St. Joe. We could keep it the same or we could make a change.”
Those who wish to register can sign up online or go in person to the shelter at 641 Crystal Ave. in Benton Township.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on June 24, 2015)