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Planning Under Way for 2016 Carillon Classic 5K Run & Walk at Bok Tower Gardens

Posted on December 8th, 2015 by

Categories: Running, Upcoming

Planning is under way for the 2016 Carillon Classic 5K Run & Walk set for Saturday, April 30, 2016 at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida. This is a charity event sponsored by the Dick Pope/Polk County chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA) to raise funds for the George W. Harris, Jr. Runaway and Youth Crisis Shelter in Bartow, an initiative of Youth and Family Alternatives, Inc.(YFA), and FPRA scholarships and professional development activities.

A volunteer committee co-chaired by FPRA members Lauren Lengyel of the Polk County Board of County Commissioners and Kelsey Hull of JSK Consulting, is planning the next Carillon Classic 5K Run & Walk, which celebrates its fifth anniversary in 2016.

In observance of this special milestone, the committee is considering the addition of new activities to complement the 5K run/walk, as well as partnerships with other running events in the Lake Wales area, creative sponsorship packages, expanded team competition, and changes to the 5k course. The ultimate course configuration will be influenced by feedback from participants in the 2015 Carillon Classic and the race day status of a $12 million capital improvement project at Bok Tower Gardens.

The Carillon Classic features what many consider Florida’s most challenging 5K course, with frequent elevation changes, twists and turns and a variety of running surfaces, including pavement, packed dirt, gravel, grass, and mulch. On some parts of the course, participants run or walk under a live oak canopy and get a close-up look at a longleaf pine forest, saw palmetto, scrub, sand pine, wire grass and other rare species. All along the course, which is situated high atop “Iron Mountain,” runners and walkers can hear soothing music from the Bok Tower carillon and see colorful gardens, citrus groves, the carillon tower and the sites of new attractions — a children’s nature garden, an outdoor kitchen garden and a Florida bog/wetland area — now springing up at Bok Tower Gardens.

The 2015 Carillon Classic 5K Run & Walk drew a record 518 runners from Florida and many other states and raised $4,500 for the George W. Harris, Jr. Runaway & Youth Crisis Shelter and additional funds for FPRA scholarships and professional development activities. Since its inception in 2012, the event has drawn over 1,600 runners and raised more than $16,000 for the youth shelter.

The FPRA chapter offers the Carillon Classic in partnership with Bok Tower Gardens, YFA and corporate sponsors. The list of 2015 corporate sponsors consisted of Hill Nissan, Heartland for Children, Gessler Clinic PA, Mosaic, Watson Clinic LLP, GEICO Insurance, the Bike Shop Sebring, Cheryl Beckert Insurance, JSK Consulting, Clark/Nikdel/Powell, Inc., SEMCO Construction, Inc., United Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, Inc., iNK Screen Printing and CWL Services, Inc. The event also had support from many in-kind sponsors and nearly 50 volunteers, as well as Polk County Tourism and Sports Marketing, which provided marketing assistance.

“As we observe the Carillon Classic’s fifth anniversary, we look forward to attracting a record number of runners and adding to our very impressive corporate sponsor list. Our goal is to make the largest donations in the history of this event to both the youth shelter and FPRA scholarships in 2016,” said Marybeth Soderstrom, president of the FPRA chapter who co-chaired the event three consecutive years from 2013 through 2015.

FPRA members who are serving on the 2016 Carillon Classic steering committee, along with Lengyel and Hull, are Brad Ruhmann, Ellen Underwood, Ken Nelson, Janel Vasallo, Danny Kushmer and Merissa Green. Jennifer Beam of Bok Tower Gardens, Michele Almand of the Harris Youth Shelter and Don Anderson of YFA also are involved in planning.

The George W. Harris, Jr. Runaway & Youth Crisis Shelter is a program of YFA that provides food, shelter, clothing, counseling, education and life skills training for disadvantaged children between the ages of 10 and 17 from Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties. For more information on the shelter and YFA visit <http://www.yfainc.org/>.

Runners can access pictures and other information about previous Carillon Classics by visiting the event page on Facebook at <https://www.facebook.com/#!/CarillonClassic5kRunWalk>. This page will also offer the most up-to-date information on the 2016 Carillon Classic as it becomes available.

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