Tuesday, 11 December 2018 23:06

Hamlet teen starts race to help needy families

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HAMLET — During this time of year marked by the exchanging of presents with friends, family, and neighbors alike, so too spike the campaigns by organizations of all sizes encouraging residents to open their hearts and their wallets to do some charitable giving.

While many of these give-back campaigns, such as the Salvation Army and the United Way are experienced on a national level, other programs such as Angel Trees and clothing drives emerge to support causes a little closer to home.

This December, thanks to the hard work and huge heart of Hamlet teen Jace Bendell, Richmond County residents will have a new opportunity to give back their community while also giving back to their personal health at the same time.

The Bendells and their dedicated team of volunteers will host the inaugural Elves on the Run 5K and 1-mile Jingle Bell Jog, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday, to raise money for local students in need.

“Every child deserves a Christmas,” said Katherine Bendell, mother of the event visionary.

“Every year we sponsor a family for Christmas through an angel tree,” explained Jace.  “It’s a tradition in our family.  But this year I really wanted to do something bigger and help more than one family.”

After some reflecting, Jace came up with the idea to hold a 5K race.

“I like to run 5K’s,” he said, “and I know they are a good way to fundraise for a great cause, so I thought it would be a fun way to help give Christmas to more than one family.”

Promptly following Jace’s proposal, he and his mother immediately began researching 5K races, calling timing companies and scheduling meetings with local officials to obtain the necessary approval to turn the idea into a reality.  

“He’s met with the city of Hamlet to obtain approval for holding a 5k race in their public streets,” said the mother. “He spoke to our church (First Presbyterian Church of Hamlet) and convinced them to allow us to use their facility to host the race from.”

She said Jace even met with Richmond County Schools Superintendent Dr. Cindy Goodman to get her permission to promote the event within the school system.

“He started it all,” she said. “I’m just helping him make it happen.”

After dozens of hours of planning, the Bendells were able to craft a race day schedule that will rival even the most established of races.  

Check-in and day-of registration are set to open at 9 a.m., before the 1-mile fun run at 9:30, followed by the 5K race at 10.  

Christmas music will fill the air and hot chocolate will be served to all, as Santa himself makes an appearance to cheer on the race competitors.  

Drop-off boxes for new or gently used school uniforms, toys, and coats, hats and gloves will also be on site to collect additional donations.

An official awards ceremony will take place after the 5K race to recognize division winners and award medals.

The event organizers would also like to acknowledge that orchestrating this inaugural 5k event would not be possible without the help of the entire community and business sponsors —such as: Harwell Palmer, DDS–General Dentistry, Griffin’s Toyota, Chrysler and Nissan dealerships, Ned’s Pawnshop and Mabry Drug and Home Care —who have pledged necessary funds and goods to make this event possible.

“We really wanted to obtain sponsors to cover as much of the event costs as possible to ensure that the majority of the money raised from race registration fees would go directly back to the kids,” his mother said. “We are very pleased and fortunate to have so many generous sponsors who were able to make that happen.”

Additionally, the mother and son team were able to secure necessary volunteers from Rockingham and Hamlet’s Beta Clubs, the First Presbyterian Church of Hamlet’s youth group, and several other church members who have agreed to donate their time to helping things run smoothly on race day.  

Individuals interested in registering for this event can do so by going to runsignup.com, filling out a paper application found on the Facebook event page, or by obtaining a paper copy directly from First Presbyterian Church.   

The cost to compete is $30 for adults and $20 for students. Children participating in the 1-mile Jingle Bell Jog can register for a fee of $15.  All participants will receive a custom event T-shirt with their registration fee.  Jingle Bell Jog participants will also receive a finisher medal.  

All of the proceeds generated from this event will go directly towards providing Christmas gifts and basic necessities for local children in need.

“We just want to get as many people involved as possible in order to help provide a Christmas for as many local kids as possible,” Jace said. “Every child deserves a Christmas.”

For more information follow the event Facebook page, Elves on the Run 5K, or email the race organizers directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..