Charity 5K exceeds expectations

Giving Back to Autism 5K raises over $2,000
Nov. 11, 2012 @ 08:11 AM

Some senior projects go unnoticed. Other end up raising thousands of dollars for a very worthy cause.

Emilee Hodge’s project was one of the latter. Her event was one that transcended the realm of just sports and competition, but also compassion.

Hodge organized the Giving Back to Autism 5K that was held on the campus of Sunshine Elementary School. The race raised over $2,000 dollars to be used towards autism education in Rutherford County, a cause very dear to Hodge.

“The reason I chose autism is because I started babysitting a child on the autism spectrum and it’s made a real impact on my life,” Hodge explained. “This senior project was a way for me to really learn more about autism as well as teach others.”

Hodge, a senior softball and tennis player at East Rutherford High School, wasn’t planning on such an event at the onset of her project.

“My mentor helped me come up with the idea for the Giving Back to Autism 5K,” said Hodge. “I had never created a race and I’ve only been to one so I didn’t really know what I was doing.”

Once the idea was formed it was time to set the plan into motion, or as Hodge called it, “the hardest part.”

“We went out to get sponsors that helped us create our shirts and we had to get permission to use Sunshine school’s course,” said Hodge. “Then we created our registration so I went around town and put up registrations and flyers so people would know about the race.”

Once the seed was planted in the community, it didn’t take long for the project to grow legs.

“Once I did that I got a lot of emails and mostly people on facebook wanting to race,” Hodge said. “I was expecting maybe 30 people to sign up but we ended up with about 80 runners. It was really surprising.”

With that amount of people participating you can’t just hold a race like you would in your backyard. Hodge had some serious preparation to consider if she wanted her race to go as planned.

“We had to call the EMS to make sure they were down there in case someone got hurt,” Hodge said. “At the beginning I was real excited about putting it together and raising a lot of money for autism and as it progressed I started to think I was in over my head, but it turned out really well and we got it all together.”

As key as Hodge was to the walk/run, she knows she couldn’t have done it alone.

“It was really easy to find volunteers because so many were willing to help,” said Hodge. “A lot of my friends ran but a lot that didn’t want to necesarrily run wanted to help do water stations and set up. I had so many I didn’t know what to do with all of them.”

“I am grateful to have the support from my friends, family, and running participants and I give a huge thanks to all of those who were able to help the Giving Back to Autism 5K a success,” Hodge added.

Hodge will be taking donations through January 1, 2013 to be used towards autism education in Rutherford County.

Donations can be sent to 257 Robbins Nest Rd. Bostic, NC 28018. Make checks payable to East Rutherford High School.