Sign-ups officially will kick off Wednesday for the benefit — renamed this year 5K for Life & Healthy Relationships — which will be held April 27 at Sam Smith Park, 9 Milner Road in Cartersville. Following the registration at 1 p.m., runners and walkers will depart at 1:30 p.m. While the event is open to all ages, the 3 p.m. concert is geared toward students, middle school to college.
“We’re following it with a concert to draw students in so we can introduce them to some testimony,” said Maryland Guthas, executive director of Bartow Family Resources, formerly known as Bartow County Women’s Resource Center. “I’ve got testimonies planned for several different areas of focus, like — because the focus is on healthy relationships, specifically healthy dating relationships — so I have someone scheduled to give a testimony about how they were a teen mom, how they became a mom when they were a teen. [It will be] almost a ‘don’t do it this way’ testimony. ‘I did it, I walked through it but it was really, really hard.’
“And then I have a testimony from a young couple who can testify that ‘we did wait till we got married.’ You can do it. It can be done. I know people say you can’t but you can. So we’ve got that kind of focus. We’re going to have testimony from someone who had an abortion and really wishes they had done it a different way. So we’ve got testimonies planned for that time kind of woven into the music. So I hope I’m going to give teen students a lot to think about since they’re really in that decision-making place in their life.”
To participate, walkers and runners are urged to raise at least $150. In addition to promoting a pro-life message, 5K for Life also will serve as a fundraiser for the nonprofit, with the event expecting to generate $40,000.
According to www.5kforlife.org, “The 5k for Life provides funds for Bartow Family Resources to continue offering free life-affirming services to over 2,500 women, men and babies in the Cartersville/Bartow County community each year. These free services include:
• Pregnancy tests
• Pregnancy options counseling
• Baby clothing and furnishings
• Parenting education
• Infant care classes
• Emergency baby supplies
• Maternity clothing
• Post-abortion recovery groups
• Education on sexual integrity and risk-avoidance
• Advocate Counseling for women and girls 13 [plus]
• Support Groups
• Adoption Education
• Adoption Support & Orphan Care.”
With the benefit being focused on students this year, Guthas is hoping to change lives in addition to raising needed funds for the organization.
“Since we are privately funded, we don’t receive any kind of government grants,” she said. “We depend on those donations just for our existence. So we do a couple of events a year just to bring in the necessary funds to keep our programs going so we can continue to offer all our services at no charge for our clients. So that’s a big part of it but I want it to be much more than that.
“This is kind of our proactive arm of outreach because we have things that are reactive. We have our pregnancy center and parts of our relationship center are also reactive, but this is going to be our proactive outreach, especially to students. If we can prevent them from needing the services of the pregnancy center, if we can prevent one from needing the services of the pregnancy center, it’s been successful.”
For more information or to register, visit www.5kforlife.org. To obtain additional details about Bartow Family Resources, 20 Douglas St. in Cartersville, call 770-382-7224 or view www.bartowbabies.org.