The Hailey Rath Memorial Event, a 5K Run/Walk and Music Fest, is set for Aug. 20 at the Rock restaurant in Beloit.
In 2005 when a car accident took the life of 13-year-old Hailey Rath, her parents, Jeff and Lisa Rath, made a difficult decision that not only changed their lives, but the lives of 75 others through organ donation.
In honor of that decision and in an effort to raise awareness for organ donation, the Rath family is holding their fifth annual 5k run/walk and music fest.
“This event is about remembering Hailey as well as bringing organ donation to the front of everyone’s thoughts,” Jeff Rath said. “We want to show people how much one person can touch so many lives. It’s a huge deal how much impact one person can make.”
There are many people who are not registered organ donors because of a lack of information. According to Rath, the major gap in organ donation is due to middle aged men because they were not educated and do not understand how it works.
In the state of Wisconsin, learning about organ donation and what options are available is part of driver’s education classes, which has led to a younger population of donors.
“Many people don’t know how they can help, that almost anything can be reused and that anyone can be a donor. Not everyone understands that even after 70 you can still donate,” Rath said.
Even people who are fully educated about organ donation aren’t donors.
“So many people think ‘I should do that,’ but never get around to it and they don’t talk to their families about it,” said event team member Lori Katterhenry. “Organ donation can be a touchy subject that people don’t want to think about. We try to get them to talk about it and tell their family what to do.”
The 5k run/walk will start at 7:30 a.m. on Shore Drive and will continue across Maple Avenue and Fourth Street and along the Rock River. Police will be handling traffic control. Registration will be at The Rock starting at 7 a.m. on Aug. 20. There is a $30 entry fee and registration is open until the day of the event.
There will be an awards ceremony after the race where the top three male and female runners will be given prizes: $75 for first place, $50 for second and $25 for third.
After the race there will be music entertainment including performances by DJ Rath, DEA, Matt Goodwin and the Return of the Dinosaurs around 3 p.m. with The Knee Deep Band joining them later that evening and The Stevee Nix at 7:30 p.m.
A silent auction and raffle also will be part of the event with prizes such as a 2010 Green Bay Packers autographed collectors edition football, a Milwaukee Brewer’s package, Buck’s tickets, 32-inch flat screen TVs and iPad, donated by area businesses.
“We really wanted to get the community involved and it is amazing how easy the community has made it for us; it has been a wonderful experience for the past four years and hope this year will be the same,” Katterhenry said.
Last year the event raised $19,000, combining the last four years of the event over $60,000 has been raised. This year Katterhenry hopes that this year’s even continues to be successful.
“This is a family fun-oriented day, but it’s also about making a difference in the lives of others,” said Rath. “For me our biggest achievement last year was getting 30 unregistered organ donors on the registration list. This year, I would love to sign up 50 more.”
According to Katterhenry $9,000 has already been raised this year through sponsorships and in the past the day’s event brought in $10,000 to $15,000.
Katterhenry said the event could see 200 runners and anywhere from 500 to 1,000 people that come to The Rock that day.
“It’s not about the amount of money we donate, it’s the camaraderie that the community brings together. The Hailey Rath Memorial event wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the ties that our family has with the community,” said Rath.
The money raised during the event will go to three different organizations: The University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Organ procurement Organization, Beloit Area ELCA Lutheran Youth and Lutherdale Bible Camp.
“The message that I would like people to leave this event with is how important organ donation is and how many lives one person can touch no matter how old or young they are,” said Rath. “I think it is best summed up with a quote from one of our T-shirts: ‘to the world you may be one person but to one person you are the world.”
To register for the 5k run/walk or to learn more about the Hailey Rath Memorial Event visit the website at www.haileyrath5k.org.