All-America City triathlon Saturday

Event benefits three organizations
Apr. 25, 2014 @ 03:07 PM

Thomasville will host its first ever triathlon Saturday in an effort to give back to the three organizations that made it an All-America City.

The All-America City Sprint Triathlon takes center stage as athletes tackle swimming, biking and running in a demanding test of will and determination.

More than 60 participants have signed up. Registration remains open at the YMCA, 1010 Mendenhall St., until 2 p.m., two hours before start time.

“We're really excited about it,” said Mary Jane Akerman, wellness coordinator for Thomasville City Schools. “The idea was born after Thomasville received its All-America city designation. This is a way for us to extend the recognition and reach of the city's designation.”

Thomasville last year received its All-America city status from the National Civic League. Thomasville's presentation featured the North Carolina Memorial Day Parade & Celebration, Children at Play and Project Divine Interruption.

“We pulled together and the decision was made pretty early on that all the proceeds would benefit the three organizations that really had the story for our All-America city presentation,” Akerman said. “This is a way to support those nonprofits that earned it to begin with.”

The triathlon consists of a 250-yard swim at the Tom A. Finch YMCA pool, a 13-mile bike ride across the city and countryside and a 5K run on a loop course traveling through trails and Chair City neighborhoods.

Anyone interested in volunteering along the course also can report to the YMCA at 2 p.m. Saturday for training and an assignment.

The event, which runs from 4 to 6 p.m., is open to the public and Akerman encourages people to come out and support the athletes along the course. DJ Tommy Rock and the band “Street Party” will provide the musical entertainment following the triathlon.

The three organizations that made Thomasville an All-America City remain strong in the community.

The North Carolina Memorial Day Parade & Celebration draws thousands of people to Thomasville every year to honor military veterans and their families. It's the largest Memorial Day parade in the southeast.

Children at Play is an ongoing initiative to combat childhood obesity. Thomasville Rotary Club led a communitywide effort to replace the playground equipment at seven city parks. Now in its second phase, Children at Play focuses on nutrition education to help families lead a healthier lifestyle.

Project Divine Interruption was created by Memorial United Methodist Church and Thomasville City Schools to assist students who are struggling with housing and food insecurities. The project has provided thousands of hygiene kits, hair cuts, meals, gloves, hats, food cards and shoes to students.

“We were trying to find a link to keep us all bonded as a community and raise money for each of these three charities,” said Tracy Brinkley, coordinator for Project Divine Interruption. “We thought the triathlon would be a way to bring the community together, between athletes and volunteers. We've been very blessed in that sponsorships have covered all of our costs so all the money raised can be split evenly between these charities.”

For more information, call Akerman at 870-1627, Brinkley at 880-5875 or Doug Croft, president of the Thomasville Area Chamber of Commerce, at 475-6134.

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.