Supporters of Camp Alexander didn't have to be in peak physical condition to compete in Saturday's fundraiser.
The .5K was hosted at Harry and Lloyd's in downtown Americus. Those who participated had to run — or, in most cases, walk — from the back patio of the bar and go a block and half before turning right onto Broadway Street. A handful of stops in the city park included "swimming" — walking through some water with flippers on their feet — and making a disc golf putt. Finally, they ended up back at Harry and Lloyd's for a selfie and, in many cases, another beverage.
More than 170 people participated in the event, with all funds going to camp scholarships for children who could not otherwise attend camp along with programs and maintenance. In 2018, the first year of the event, it brought in more than $5,000, according to Camp Coordinator Carla Fessler.
Fessler and her daughter, Ashley Kopecky, came up with the idea after seeing similar events being conducted as fundraisers in other towns.
"We were looking for a different kind of fundraiser," Fessler said. "In our community, we have a lot of disc golf fundraisers, which are amazing, and a lot of 5Ks, which are also amazing, but we wanted to do something different. This seemed like something anyone of any physical size could participate in. It was something everybody could buy into."
After the success of last year's fundraiser, Fessler said they decided to "go even bigger" this year. Participants got two free drinks, a shirt or tank top and food was provided by Tyson while volunteers cooked and served meals. There was also a lengthy table of silent auction items on which guests could bid.
Fessler said all of the items for the silent auction, use of the venue and food came at no cost to Camp Alexander, meaning more funds could be donated to the cause.
"Other than the T-shirts and beer, it's basically all profit," she said.
Camp Alexander holds week-long camps throughout the summer with different themes each week. Children can take part in everything from water wars to Olympic games and nature-themed camps. There are also specialty day camps.
Fessler was the Camp Director from 2013 - 2016 before transitioning into her current role. She said seeing the amount of support for Camp Alexander for events such as the .5K made it hard for her to not become emotional.
"Camp Alexander is my baby," she said. "I look for every reason I can to support Camp Alexander. I think people in our community love a good cause, and camp is such a good place. Our job is to make sure every kid who wants to go to camp is able to do so, so this helps us out with that mission."
She said special credit for the event needed to go to Kopecky, who was busy registering a steady stream of participants shortly before Saturday's start time — which is whenever people wanted to leave as there was no official start to avoid congestion on the short course. She said her daughter spent a great deal of time asking for donations along with getting people, businesses and organizations involved.
Fessler was also thankful for the community for their continued support of Camp Alexander.
"People in our town — you ask and they give," she said.