When the Peach Belt Conference planned its Fall Festival, Commissioner David Brunk came across a cause he thought would be ideal for Saturday's 5K/1K Fun Run event, which will start at 11 a.m. at Blanchard Woods Park.
The idea came about after he met with the committee appointed to examine middle school sports programs in Columbia County.
"I had read about the plight of middle school athletic programs and teams in Columbia County and thought, 'This might be just the way to really get the Peach Belt more involved in the community and something we could build on for each year,'" Brunk said
Thus, Brunk decided the proceeds from Saturday's event will benefit what he refers to as "at-risk Columbia County middle school sports programs."
Registration for the run will cost $20 for adults and $10 for children 10 and younger.
Sandra Carraway, the county's deputy superintendent of schools, has served as a mediator during the committee's meetings. She said the committee has made "great progress" and is near a final conclusion.
She said the committee plans to present its recommendations to the school board in December.
"The goal was to look at middle school sports, to look at how effective they are at skill-building, and to make recommendations to the superintendent on how the middle school sports should be organized to have the best offering to students," Carraway said.
She acknowledged that Brunk's proposal was a nice gesture.
"It's rare that people come to us wanting to help in that regard," Carraway said. "So we're really thankful to him."
Brunk believes it is important for young athletes to have the opportunity to play sports at the middle school level.
"Athletics is so much more than just competing on the field of play, especially when you get to the middle school age, the formative years, and the opportunity to be part of a team and achieve a common goal," Brunk said.
The Peach Belt, of which Augusta State University is a member, will also hold its soccer and cross country conference championships during the Fall Festival.
The women's soccer semifinals will be held simultaneously Friday at 5 p.m., followed by the men's soccer semifinals at 7:30 p.m..
The women's final will be held Sunday at 1 p.m., followed by the men's final at 3:30.
Tickets and tournament passes will be available. One-day tickets cost $6 for adults and $3 for children, while tournament passes -- good for both days -- cost $10 for adults and $5 for children.
The 5K/1K Fun Run will be held in conjunction with the cross country championships.
The men's championship will be held at 9 a.m., followed by the women's race at 9:45 a.m.
Also on Saturday, the Peach Belt will hold its third annual Breakfast with the Champions free soccer clinic.
The clinic, for boys and girls ages 6-12, will begin at 11 a.m. On hand to help with the clinic will be student-athletes from Peach Belt soccer teams. Food and a T-shirt will be provided to all participants.
For information on the 5K/1K or the soccer clinic, visit www. peachbeltconference.org.
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