As Paducah residents may have witnessed, the Mercy Health Iron Mom Half Marathon, Relay and 5K took place Saturday, as hundreds of racers and volunteers joined forces on a “signature” event for Family Service Society.
“We’re hoping the funds in this year’s race can help us to cover what we didn’t have in 2020, while also helping us prepare for the expenses — or the services, of 2021,” Executive Director Candace Melloy told The Sun on Monday.
Family Service Society, located at 827 Joe Clifton Drive in Paducah, generally assists more than 4,000 households in Paducah and McCracken County a year, Melloy said. The nonprofit organization provides resources to those in need, such as a food and personal pantry, utility assistance, a clothing room, and help with dental care, prescription medications and eyeglasses.
“This is an incredibly important event to our agency,” added Katie Howard, who is director of business development and the race director for Family Service Society. “It is our signature event.”
Saturday marked the 10th Iron Mom Half Marathon event. It raised more than $61,700 in 2019, according to the Sun archives. It’s not certain yet how much was raised from this year’s event, as Howard said on Monday that the numbers are still coming in.
“It is the event that brings in the most funds for our organization and without it, we wouldn’t be able to do the things that we do every day, we wouldn’t be able to support our community like we do every day, and without that community collaboration from our sponsors, our runners, and our volunteers we would just be lost,” she said. “We are just so thankful for them.”
Howard explained that a little under 500 people had been registered in 2020, and, like many other community events, it didn’t take place because of COVID-19. They still wanted to honor the people who had registered and the sponsors who donated, automatically rolling them over to this year’s event.
“Since the new year, we’ve almost doubled our race registrations and it was a record year, as far as our race registrations go with 948 people signed up,” she said. “Out of those, we saw 20 different states signed up.”
She thinks it was a great success this year. There were more than 170 volunteers “on paper” who helped out — whether it was to control traffic, assist with the start and finish lines, or work at water tables throughout the course.
“We were really, really happy with our turnout, and folks were so excited just to be a part of the race. We received lots of good feedback,” Howard added.
“Iron Mom is a signature event in this community and folks love the course. They love running around the historic streets of Paducah and it really is a community event. It’s a feel-good event. It makes me happy to see so many people willingly volunteer to participate in the event, and the excitement that everyone just had (on) race morning, keeps you going. I’m looking forward to next year already, even though we’re a year away at this time.”
The average race registration costs $60 and that goes directly to Family Service Society. The $60 can provide a month’s worth of life-sustaining medication for one person, so the race registrations “do go far and wide.”
Visit fsspaducah.com to learn more about the nonprofit’s efforts to help local families, and an online link to the event’s results for different categories is available on the Mercy Health Iron Mom Half Marathon Facebook page.