THE ENERGY in the air was palpable as participants stretched their legs, bounced up and down, and took a competitive glance around at their fellow participants. Some were neighbors, and others were out-of-towners. The horn sounded, and the mass of runners moved forward as one looking to take on the rolling hills of Lincoln County. While a good-humored competition, for this race in particular, there was an infectious sense of camaraderie that created a feeling of unity and shared purpose that raised awareness and funds for two worthy causes.
These dedicated runners and walkers came out for the annual Firecracker Chase on Saturday, June 24. The race consists of a 5.1 or 10.2-mile course that runners and walkers can take on. Participants braved the hilly and challenging course to raise funds for two local nonprofits, The Quatina M. Wolaver Foundation of Hope and Hayden’s Hope.
The Quatina M. Wolaver Foundation of Hope was established in 2018. Our mission is to raise awareness and funds for research on ovarian cancer. All funds raised through the Firecracker Chase are used to raise local awareness, primarily in Lincoln County, and the remainder is donated to larger research organizations with the hope that one day a test can be brought to the market so women will have a fighting chance with early diagnosis.
Hayden’s Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed in early 2019 by Amy Harwell and her family after the death of her son, Hayden Hammons, by suicide in October 2018.
The organization provides scholarships to local area youth in our community and surrounding areas. They also talk to youth in the classrooms, locker rooms, and church youth groups to encourage open conversations about the real-life issues they face while also talking about Jesus and the plan of salvation. Hayden’s Hope’s mission and goal is to spread the message and meaning of “there is always HOPE.”
Along with the race, Hayden’s Hope also sponsors several community events during the year, which include the South Lincoln Middle School Color Run, Hayden’s Hope Craft Fair that takes place on Sept. 9 at The Farmhouse at Two Trees, and a 5k Turkey Trot held on Thanksgiving morning on the campus of Lincoln County High School.
Southern said she was glad to see the race back for a fourth year.
“I always look forward to seeing some growth in the number of participants and having our runners back out. We were glad to have the folks who have been out the last few years to come back and take on the challenge again,” she said.
Harwell hopes the race will become a community mainstay event in its fourth year.
“We want it to be a legacy race where when people think of this time of the year, they think of the Firecracker Chase,” she said.
Southern added that she and Harwell are proud to create an event where the community can unite.
“We love it,” she said. “I have fun directing the race and love seeing communities come together. They really rally around and take care of each other. I love being a part of putting something on that brings the whole community together in a fun way.” GN