PHOTO: Photos from last year's Race to Embrace! (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)
By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor
FORT PAYNE, Ala. — In a little over two weeks, the Fort Payne Optimist Club will be holding their 10th Annual 'Race to Embrace' at Fort Payne High School Wildcat Stadium. The annual event is held for children and adults with special needs across DeKalb County.
The event will kickoff the morning of Friday, April 13th and organizations, students, and businesses from across the county and area will be pitching in to make it a day to remember. Participants in the event come from Fort Payne City Schools, DeKalb County Schools, Haymon Homes, and the DeKalb County ARC.
Brian Baine, who serves as Club President of the Fort Payne Optimist Club, began Race to Embrace 10 years ago. He explained what gave them the idea to start one of DeKalb County's favorite charity events:
"There was talk about bringing the Special Olympics back to DeKalb County, and we had the Special Olympic folks up from Montgomery that came and talked to the Optimist Club. There was a lot of red tape that you would have to go through to do the Special Olympics. Then, all the participants had to have physicals and not all the special needs kids in the area can participate in it," said Baine.
"We wanted something that could be all-inclusive; something that all the kids could participate in. So, after talking about it, we decided to do an event day, modeled after the Special Olympics. Every participant gets a trophy and a medal at the end of the day, and everyone gets a T-shirt," he explained.
With this being the big 10 year anniversary, participants will receive a tye-dyed t-shirt and several other things will be added to make this year one to remember.
Last year's Race to Embrace saw 275 to 300 participants come out to Wildcat Stadium, and organizers are expecting the turnout to be just as big this year. Activities will include (but not limited to) bean-bag toss, basketball, soccer, bubbles, hula-hoops, dunking booths, and face painting.
GameTime of Fort Payne will also be bringing out some of their mobile play equipment for the event.
Volunteers need to be at the stadium at 8:30 am, with the event starting at 9 am. The students of Fort Payne High School will be let out of class to cheer the participants on as they enter the stadium.
Marla and Marshall of Torch Talk will be on the scene that morning to film their weekly show, and Southern Torch will be helping volunteer. Stay tuned for more on this great event!