The 10th annual Race to Embrace was held at the Fort Payne High School football stadium on Friday.
Schools in the county and Fort Payne, along with The ARC of DeKalb County and Haymon Homes in Rainsville, came together for a field day of outdoor events for students and individuals with special needs.
The Fort Payne Optimist Club organized the event, along with numerous sponsors and volunteers. With approximately 60 sponsors, 325 participants and nearly 450 volunteers, the 10th anniversary was everything the Optimist Club could have hoped for.
Brian Baine, city council president and Optimist club president, says he has been involved since the beginning of Race to Embrace.
“It is kind of like the Special Olympics, but for people of all abilities. It is less about the competition and more about everyone winning and getting recognition,” Baine said, “It’s a heartwarming feeling to be able to provide that for our youth and the ones that graduate and then move onto the adult programs.”
This year’s event was able to provide numerous activities for participants, including bouncy houses, a shaved ice truck, a dunking booth provided by the fire department, a red carpet photo booth, bubble stations, various sports and food provided by Western Sizzlin and Chick- fil-A. The Fort Payne Fire Department, Police Department, Lions Club and Kiwanis members were all also present, donating their time and resources to help the children.
The Optimist Club’s mission in the community is “Bringing out the Best in Our Kids,’ and Tricia Dunne, Optimist Club board member, said this was visible Friday as adult volunteers and students from the high school spent the day assisting participants with the various events.
“Our 10th anniversary was by far one of our best years yet,” said Dunne. “We could not have done this without all of our sponsors and volunteers.”
Baine said they begin sending donation letters in January and wait to see what options are available to them that year for the event.
Baine emphasized the club would not be able to do this every year without their sponsors to help.
The donations help provide all participants and volunteers with a T-shirt, a meal and all the activities.
“Our club has grown so much over the last few years, and we would love for more people to join and help us do more projects in the community,” Dunne said.
Contact Dunne at email@example.com or call 256-304-0050 for more information on joining the Optimist Club.