The promise of HOPE

My alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning. I was off to pick up the bagels and bottled water to bring with us to Marcellus. My fiance Tim and I pulled up at the high school just after 8 a.m. The tent was already secured, tables were standing, assignments were being given and anticipation was brewing.

It was the day we had all been waiting for: HOPE for Bereaved's inaugural 8K Run and One-Mile Remembrance Walk. Staff, committee members and volunteers had been planning for the event since February - that's not a whole lot of time when the team majority is comprised of rookies! Well, call us rookies no more. More than 150 people showed up on a drizzly Sunday morning to participate in what HOPE plans to make an annual fundraiser for the organization.

Some people ran to run the picturesque, and challenging, certified course; others ran or walked in memory of a loved one, hanging photos and writing messages on the memory boards displayed throughout the morning. The temperature was cool but the atmosphere couldn't have been warmer. It was truly a perfect setting for a new beginning.

The run started a little after 10 a.m. but not before founder Therese Schoeneck could address HOPE's supporters with words of gratitude. The nonprofit organization offers programs and counseling - free of charge - to anyone grieving over the loss of a loved one. HOPE has helped thousands of adults and children alike since it was established in the mid 1970s, shortly after Therese's daughter was killed in a car accident. All proceeds would benefit HOPE.

Medals were given to the top male and female runners, and also to the top finisher in three age groups. There was face painting, music playing and people relaxing, enjoying the fruits of their labor. In just another hour or so, Marcellus' Olde Home Days would begin ... another reason to bring out the family on what turned out to be a warm, sunny afternoon.

As Tim and I walked to our car, I couldn't help but feel the promise of HOPE: the energy, the positive vibes and the peace of being part of a special group that truly cares about the person.

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