On October 13, 2007, the FORREST RAY 5K RUN/WALK CELEBRATION will be held as part of Octoberfest in Sumter County. The race is a fundraising event for the Sumter County Library. This will be the second year for the 5K, which is the inspired creation of Forrest Ray, a musician, avid reader, and dedicated library supporter. Forrest came up with the idea as a way to raise money to help in the renovation/expansion project of the Library Headquarters that saw the library go from an outdated relic of the 1960’s to the state of the art facility that opened in May of this year after a year and a half of construction. Forrest’s vision did not end with the construction of the building, however. Once the “house” was built, he envisioned this race becoming an annual event that would engage the entire community in raising money for furnishings, library programming, and books and audiovisual materials to fill the many rows of new shelving.
Last year’s race attracted over 100 participants. Forrest worked tirelessly to make the first annual 5K the success it was, even while enduring the effects of the cancer that would claim his life four months later. As a sign of appreciation for his efforts, the Library Board of Trustees and the Friends of the Library voted to name the event in his memory.
An athletic competition is perhaps not the first thing that would spring to mind when thinking of fundraising possibilities for a Library, but it has turned out to be a very inventive idea that takes into consideration the “whole” person – a health inspired event that will raise money to benefit the educational, cultural, and recreational life of Sumter County. In addition, the 5K positions the library front and center in a community event. This race will bring together young and old, industry and schools, Sumter and Shaw AFB residents, in fact, the very people the library wishes to reach and serve. The Sumter YMCA immediately signed on as a co-sponsor, as did Sumter County Lifestyles. SAFE Federal Credit Union became a major corporate supporter this year, thus enabling the event to soar to a new dimension of excellence.
The FORREST RAY 5K RUN/ WALK will begin at 9:00 am at the Sumter County Library, and the race itself will follow a route that will take runners and walkers through downtown Sumter, past residences in the historic district, and finish at the beautiful Swan Lake Gardens. Transportation will be available to take participants back to the library. Registration is available online at the Sumter YMCA (an organizational sponsor of the race) at http://www.ymcasumter.org or the library’s site, www.midnet.sc.edu/sumtercls.