Great Strides 2018 Set For March 24

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - by Sara Groos, Lee University
Lee Stewart, right center, leads the charge at the 2017 Great Strides Walk
Lee Stewart, right center, leads the charge at the 2017 Great Strides Walk

The 18th annual Great Strides Walk to cure cystic fibrosis will be held Saturday, March 24. Cleveland business leader Lee Stewart will serve for a second year as community chair for the Cleveland/Bradley 2018 Great Strides Walk and 65 Roses 5K road race for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. 

The Great Strides event will rally hundreds of community participants and Lee University students to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Last year, the event drew over 1,000 walkers, runners, and volunteers who raised more than $75,000, pushing the amount raised by the Cleveland/Bradley community for CF research to more than $930,000. It is expected this year’s event will bring the grand total raised locally to over a million dollars. 

CF is a genetic disease which damages and eventually destroys the lungs of its patients. The proceeds from Great Strides go directly to support research and drug development for those affected by the disease. 

“Great Strides and the 65 Roses 5K race exemplify the very essence of our community which identifies a need and works hard to meet it,” said Mr. Stewart, regional president of East Tennessee for Southern Heritage Bank.  “I encourage everyone to participate in this event and receive the blessing they are sure to experience. Lee University creates such a fun atmosphere on the day of the event as the campus comes together with the community to ‘ADD TOMORROWS’ - a great way to spend a Saturday.” 

Dr. Mike Hayes, vice president for student development at Lee, and Vanessa Hammond, CF parent and director of the office of grants at Lee, will serve alongside Mr. Stewart. The 65 Roses 5K road race will be directed by Dr. Bill Estes, dean of the Helen DeVos College of Education. Volunteer support will be provided by the university’s Student Leadership Council and various community groups. 

“Great Strides provides a fantastic opportunity for family, friends, students, co-workers, and colleagues to come together in support of a worthy cause,” said Leigh Ellington, executive director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “We have been blessed by the continuous support from Cleveland and Bradley County to fulfill our mission of finding a cure and are excited to see this community cross the million dollar mark of dollars raised. What a milestone that will help those with CF hit many more milestones in their lives.”

To help commemorate crossing the million dollar mark, Lee will welcome Olympic-medalist and America’s most decorated distance runner, Meb Keflezighi, to both run and speak during the weekend. A 23-time national champion and a four-time Olympic athlete, Mr. Keflezighi is the oldest marathon runner in U.S. Olympic history, in addition to being a runner, author, motivational speaker, humanitarian, and mentor. 

Mr. Keflezighi’s visit to Cleveland will consist of running in the 65 Roses 5K race on Saturday morning, visiting students at Arnold Memorial Elementary, putting on a clinic for local high school and college track and cross country teams, and sharing his personal story at a dinner Friday evening at Lee. 

Race registration will begin at 7 a.m. on March 24 in front of the Lee University Student Union. The route for the 2018 walk and 5K run (3.1 miles) will begin and end on the Lee campus and travel throughout Cleveland’s historic downtown area. The road race, in partnership with Terra Running Company, will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the walk at 10 a.m. 

Anyone can participate in the walk or race. To learn more about the event and to register, visit the local event website at http://www.leeuniversity.edu/cf.  Tickets for the dinner with Mr. Keflezighi will be available on the website in February. 

This year’s premier sponsors include Bank of Cleveland, Caldwell Paving and Grading, Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, Crawford’s Pharmacy, Don Ledford Automotive, Easy Auto, First Tennessee Foundation, Lee University, Garden Plaza, Life Care Center of Cleveland, Paul and Darlia Conn, Ralph Buckner Funeral Home and Crematory, South East Bank, Southern Heritage Bank, and Tri-Con, Inc. Media sponsors include the Cleveland Daily Banner and WCLE’s Mix 104.1. Event sponsorships are still available. 

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is a nonprofit donor-supported organization dedicated to attacking cystic fibrosis from every angle. Its focus is to support the development of new drugs to fight the disease, improve the quality of life for those with CF, and ultimately find a cure. In the last 30 years, the life expectancy of a child with CF has doubled, and research is happening daily to find a cure and perfect drugs available to those living with CF. 

For more information about the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, visit https://www.cff.org/

For more information about the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation team opportunities or event sponsorship for Great Strides, contact Leigh Ellington at lellington@cff.org. 


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