CARBONDALE — When For Kids’ Sake director Shema Ruperto first started talking about organizing a 5K, she received some unequivocal advice: “Don’t do it.”
An experienced race director told her that 5Ks require a lot of work and don’t raise much money — and that there are always too many of them for people to choose from.
“I feel fortunate that after seven years, we have become the largest 5K in Carbondale,” Ruperto said.
For Kids’ Sake, presented by the religious not-for-profit Dayemi Tariqat, sponsors orphanages, schools and cottage industries in Bangladesh, one of the poorest countries in the world. The Superhero 5K is its largest annual fundraiser; last year, it brought in $37,000. The organization is shooting for $40,000 this year, Ruperto said.
This year’s race will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, at Turley Park. Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry will introduce the event.
Participants can either walk or run and are encouraged to dress in superhero costumes. The 5K adopted the superhero theme last year.
”Honestly, if you visit Bangladesh, you could say these kids need to be saved. They are some of the poorest kids in the poorest country in the most rural areas of Bangladesh, and to be a superhero is to put aside your own personal agendas, your own desires, your own needs and to put someone else’s needs first, and that’s what we’re all about with our fundraising,” Ruperto said.
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She added that she believes the race has grown steadily because participants know that their donations will go far. The $20 registration fee alone will provide a meal to 57 orphans; a donation of $250 can take care of a child’s basic needs for six months, she said.
Participants who raise $250 will receive a cinch bag and long-sleeve performance shirt. Other prizes will be given out for the fastest times, best costumes and most money raised.
Forty local businesses have sponsored the event, and their sponsorships total $15,000.
The facilities sponsored by For Kids’ Sake are on high ground and have not been affected by the recent catastrophic flooding in Bangladesh, according to Ruperto.
“We’ve been incredibly lucky,” she said.