When the Mercedes Marathon begins this weekend, some of the runners will be seeking more than personal glory. They’ll be making strides toward a good cause.
Members of the Birmingham Track Club have been raising money to benefit the Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs, an organization dedicated to maximizing the potential in children from birth to three years of age who are at risk of developmental delay. During the track club’s annual “year-end” party in January, the group raised $450 for the Bell Center. But they won’t stop there.
Through the Bell Center’s Bell Runners program, members of the track club will raise more money for the center during the marathon, said BTC President Jennifer Andress. A mother of two whose children have benefited from Bell Center programs, Andress feels the opportunity is important to her. “It’s one thing for me to have an affinity for a charity, but we wanted to make it about running,” she said. “We have the marathon coming up — which we are a big supporter of — and it just all ties together.”
The Bell Runners Program pairs up a Mercedes Marathon runner or walker with a Bell Center child. Participants pledge to raise $100 a mile for the marathon, with all money raised being given to the Bell Center.
Andress has seen firsthand just how much good the Bell Center provides for children. “Any child at risk for developmental delay, no matter their ability to pay or if the child is at risk but without a specific diagnosis, any child is welcome there.”
The year-end party last month, held at Good People Brewery, was also part of a membership drive for the Birmingham Track Club. Currently there are 864 members in the track club, which has a goal of reaching 1,000 in the near future. The cost for a membership is $24 for a single membership and $36 for a family membership.
“We have introduced a lot of programs that we feel like have benefited the members. We sponsor four races a year and had an increase attendance across the board,” Andress said. “Things are looking up for us and we are excited. We love it. It’s something we love to do and love to share with people.”