By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
MELBOURNE BEACH -- A truly unique event will be hosted next week, with all funds raised benefitting the Gemini Elementary School's Technology Fund.
On Saturday, March 15, Gemini's PTO, in partnership with the Melbourne Beach Rotary Club, will host the second annual 5K Sunset Run and Walk. The event, which will take place at Gemini Elementary, begins at 5:30 p.m.
Registration fees are $25 for individuals and $15 for kids on or before Wednesday, March 12, with fees increasing by $5 after. There is also a family discount available for immediate family members in the same household, for $60 on or before March 12 and $70 after.
"With major budget cuts to Brevard County Schools and the failure to pass the half-cent tax, our school needed the funds to help make up the shortfall in our school's budget to ensure our children receive a quality education," said Rachelle Butler, race director. "Our PTO was looking for fresh ideas for fundraising two years ago, when our new PTO president Catherine Dunlop came on board."
Wanting to make its fundraising efforts focused on fun, while still promoting health and its community, the Gemini PTO came up with the 5K Sunset Run and Walk, which the group first hosted last year.
In total, the first annual 5K Sunset Run and Walk, which had 250 participants, raised more than $5,000, which the Gemini Technology Fund used to purchase 25 iPads, as well as a charging cart and cases.
The funds also helped purchase security equipment to increase communication with Gemini's separate sixth-grade building.
"We are still facing some of the same budgeting issues as last year," Mrs. Butler said. "This year, our principal received only $1,800 in his budget for technology for the entire school, which includes repairs and replacements for 44 instructional classrooms."
While any amount of money is welcome, Mrs. Butler said that, in the event an overhead projector light bulb burns out, it will cost $175 to replace a single bulb.
"All of the proceeds from our 5K will, again, be set aside for technology needs," Mrs. Butler said. "However, our school is also in need of funding to replace rusted playground equipment, as well as repair and maintenance of the exterior campus, such as fencing, landscaping and irrigation."
A fun part of this year's 5K Sunset Run and Walk will be a group of food trucks, including Coastal Kitchen Food Truck, Butts & Bones, Live Healthy Juice Bar and Kona Ice.
"Butts & Bones is owned by Charlie, formerly of Charlie & Jake's," Mrs. Butler added. "He is offering your choice of two meats, along with two sides for $7. For each plate sold, he will donate $4 to Gemini's Technology Fund."
There will also be many awards for participants of this year's 5K. Categories range from those 5 years old to 55-plus, with awards going to the top three males and females, both overall and in their respective age groups.
The overall first-place male and female will win free entry into the Pineapple Man Triathlon, which will be hosted on June 1, and the top female and male children runners, ages 12 and younger, will receive entry to Pineapple Kidz on May 31.
Mrs. Butler added that if people are not able to run, but want to help, she is in need of race-day volunteers.
"Many are needed out on the course to direct runners or to hand out water," she said.
The Melbourne Beach Rotary Club is also looking forward to helping out its local school.
"The Rotary Club had such a great time partnering with Gemini last year, and we are delighted to do so again in 2014," said President Eric Smith in a press release. "This event pulls the community together, shows the support Rotary has for education and is a wonderful time for everyone involved."
The finish line sponsor for this year's 5K Sunset Run and Walk - Dale Sorensen Real Estate - said its staff is also honored to be a part of such a great event.
"What makes a community so inviting and such a great place to live is the people and how we invest in the next generation's education," said managing partner Dale Sorensen, Jr., in a press release.
Proud of his staff and PTO, Gemini Elementary Principal Joseph Loffek said that much of the school's success belongs to the fantastic parents and business community that support the school.
"Gemini Elementary continues to be one of the highest-performing schools in the state," Principal Loffek said in a press release. "With our second annual 5K race, it is exciting to see our families and community come together again to support our school."
Not only is the 5K Sunset Run and Walk a unique event for all to participate in, Mrs. Butler said, but it is going to be full of community spirit.
"It's so rewarding to see the community come together to support one another," she added. "It's even more rewarding to see it done in a fun, healthy and active way. In addition, our school started the Morning Mile program this year, which is a running club, and many of the students are training for our 5K. It will be so fun to see these kids achieve their goals."
Gemini Elementary will host the second annual 5K Sunset Run and Walk on Saturday, March 15 at 5:30 p.m.
Gemini Elementary is located at 2100 Oak Street, Melbourne Beach.
For more information about the Sunset Run and Walk or to register or volunteer, visit www.geminiPTO.org/sunset5K.