PETERSBURG, Mich. - A five-kilometer run and walk to honor the late Rose Marie Hunt has breathed new life into a longtime annual summer event.
The Petersburg Community Day Celebration, which was held July 18, began with the run and walk organized by the family of Mrs. Hunt, who died in January after a long battle with cancer.
Jessica Cribbs, the race director who is one of Mrs. Hunt's three children, said the participation exceeded her family's expectations.
Mrs. Cribbs, a 1996 graduate of Summerfield High School who lives in Burbank, Calif., said the race and run will be held again next year as part of the one-day community celebration.
Nearly 200 people signed up in advance to run or walk the course, which meandered through the streets of the city. On the day of the event, 122 more participants registered.
Runners in California and Cleveland also participated through a virtual run.
More important, Mrs. Cribbs said, the event raised more than $10,000 for charity, including nearly $9,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
"The vendors said they had the best day of sales in 20 years," she said. "I absolutely want to keep this going."
Mrs. Hunt, 54, was a lifelong Petersburg resident. She worked for many years in her brother's store in the city and was active in the community. She was diagnosed with cancer when she was 41. The disease went into remission but only to return 12 years later.
The run and walk emerged as her family was dealing with her illness.
"We all knew mom was dying. I wanted to do good things in her name and prevent others from going through what we went through," Mrs. Cribbs said.
The goal of the family was to raise at least $2,000 for breast cancer research.
Runners and walkers were given red balloons to release at the 8:30 a.m. start of the event and received long-stem red roses after they crossed the finish line.
The flowers were donated by Blooming Creations, a local flower shop.
"My goal was keep people in town after the end of the race and it worked," Mrs. Cribbs said.
Petersburg Community Day began in 1976 as a downtown festival to raise funds to finance the construction of the Petersburg-Summerfield Branch Library.
Sponsored by the Petersburg Volunteer Firemen's Association, the event always features a parade in the city at noon.
A softball tournament and garage sales were held throughout the community.
Petersburg Mayor Jim Holeman said the race and walk made the day a big success.
"The businesses in town were happy. The money went to an extremely good cause," he said.
Assistant fire department chief Ben Gilbert said final figures on the fund-raising were still being calculated, but projections indicated this year's event was among the most successful.
"We are very happy with it this year," he said.