Woodfin's Read, Write, Run 5K: All About Community - TribPapers

Woodfin’s Read, Write, Run 5K: All About Community

Heath Smith was first to finish overall. Photo by John Conley.

Asheville – Saturday, April 27th, was the 9th annual Woodfin 5K, and it was quite a turnout. Originally started by former principal Chad Upton, along with several teachers and parents, the race has grown so large that it is now an official non-profit. This year’s race included 314 registered participants, ages 2 to 81. The first to cross the line was Heath Smith at 18:40. The top female was Sofi Alexander at 20:18.

A Community Effort

The thing heard over and over again about Woodfin and the incredible support the Woodfin Elementary School experiences from locals is the word community. Residents and businesses alike band together in a strong sense of belonging and camaraderie to support Woodfin’s “Read, Write, Run” 5K event each year. Even the kids got involved; this year, the fourth graders designed the T-shirts the runners and volunteers wore. The design used blocks made by individual students that were then laid out together. Having students design the shirts was a first.

Nicole Roberts, principle of Woodfin Elementary, shared, “We don’t hold a fundraiser for our school, but the community organized this event starting eleven years ago. We’re actually really blessed because of our community’s support. Because of this race, we are able to buy things for the students that we wouldn’t be able to provide them with—extra materials, extra supplies.” Roberts added that in the past they only had art and music one day a week, but this year they have an art teacher for two days and a music teacher for two days. The 5K helps fund these teachers. In the true sense of community, the municipality and local businesses support the race through sponsorships, with the town of Woodfin and the YMCA of Asheville as Community Partners, Presenting Sponsor AvL Technologies, Platinum Sponsor New Life Community Church, fifteen Gold Sponsors, and fifteen Silver Sponsors, and twelve Bronze Sponsors, according to the Woodfin 5K website.

In addition to the sponsors, Roberts said that they also had her entire school staff, neighbors from the nearby Reynolds Mountain community, volunteers from U-N-C-A student athletes, the Woodfin police department, and the Woodfin fire department. According to Roberts, “This is truly a community event, and we’re truly a community school. We could not do it without the community.”

Superintendent Speaks of Community

The superintendent of Buncombe County Schools, Rob Jackson, actually ran in the race. About it, he said, “It was awesome. It’s a beautiful day, and it’s one of the hardest courses I’ve ever run, but just a wonderful time.” When asked about the lack of a PTO for Woodfin Elementary, Jackson shared, “PTOs really depend on the parents, and sometimes it’s harder for parents to give back in the ways they may have in the past because they are working multiple jobs and trying to take care of their families.” Jackson continued, “One of the things Woodfin has benefitted from, though, is the philanthropy of the community—community members, neighbors who may not have children in the schools, have adopted the schools.”

Where the Funds Go

Anne DeLoach is the secretary of the non-profit and 5K event coordinator. DeLoach got involved when her then-four-year-old was a prospective kindergartener and said they have been able to raise perhaps $100,000 over the years. DeLoach shared, “The funds raised in the past have gone to funding the summer reading programs, bus transportation for the summer reading programs, and any number of activities at the school that support literacy. She continued, “Most recently, there’s been a big push to fund a new playground, and that got launched last May. The new playground is pretty spectacular.” Even that was a community effort, with UNCA athletes shoveling mulch onto the playground.

It’s All About Community

In speaking with Jim Morgan and Lisa Schultz from AvL Technologies, one of the first businesses to support the Woodfin 5K, I asked why this race was important to them. Morgan simply responded, “Community, period,” while Shultz said, “I want to support this school. It doesn’t seem like it has a lot of resources. That is my purpose.”

Anne DeLoach added about the Reynolds Mountain Community, “What’s really sweet about the community involvement here is that so many of the folks from the Reynolds Mountain community are like extra grandparents to these children.”

If you would like to join in the fun of the Woodfin 5k, check out the website at: https://runsignup.com/Race/NC/Asheville/WoodfinsReadwRiteRun5k.

Photos of the event can be seen on the Tribune Papers Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/thetribunepapers/.