Stewart Park played host to over 1,600 people from around the state who came to participate in the first ever Umpqua Strong 9k+5k/Run-Walk on Oct. 1, 2016. The event was a fund-raiser coordinated by Randi Feland in order to raise funds for the Umpqua Strong Memorial Scholarships in the names of the Umpqua 9 and the survivors. The event ultimately raised $60,000.
“We wanted to give the community a positive outlet,” Feland said. “We started planning almost right after to find a way to show that we were a part of a strong community. That gave me a picture of walking along side one another.”
The route took participants from Stewart Park down to Gaddis Park and over to the newly cleaned-up Elk Island before coming back to Steward Park. “We wanted to show a different and unique side of Roseburg,” Said Feland.
Over 110 teams registered with a goal of raising $50,000. Teams ranged from only a few members to well over 100 with all age groups represented. Team Snyder’s members included four instructors from UCC. The largest team was from CHI Mercy Medical Center. Families with toddlers riding in strollers and walking along side joined with participants in wheel chairs. Some were even using walking sticks.
Ben Rodriguez finished the 5K race in 17:27, followed by Salvador Valencia Jr. and Brandon Byrd for the men. Hannah White came in first place for the women’s.
The 9k had 354 runners, with Mike Brown taking first place.
UCC’s men’s basketball team ran the 9k course with 17 team members showing up. “We’re here to help support and show we care,” said Jouvon Edison, center.
Kira Oerman UCC’s recruitment specialist ran the 5k-course solo. “I wanted to be involved in a community event to honor those from Oct.1 and be a part of the event. It was neat to see the community coming together to keep pushing forward while remembering those that were affected.”
Oregon National Guard 1-186 C Company walked the entire 9k route in full combat gear. It took the company around two hours to complete the course.
Supporters lined the road to cheer on those walking or running. Former UCC student Wanda Rime was has lived in the area for 20 years, summed up many emotions regarding “What does UCC Strong mean to you?”
“Support, caring, learning to trust,” Rime, 86, said. “It gives me a feeling right here (in the heart) when I think of it. It’s a community.”
Volunteers from several local companies manned the water stations set up alongside the route and in the park. Among them was the entire UO women’s soccer team. Lauren Holden, senior goalkeeper for the Ducks said, “This impacted our community too. We wanted to give back to Umpqua and Oregon as a whole.”
“I couldn’t run, but still wanted to do something,” said volunteer Laurie Montegomery, who works for Douglas Medical Equipment and Supply. Jessie Provencal echoed her fellow volunteer’s sentiment. “Close friends of mine were involved. So, I wanted to pay my part in some small way.”
Fred Meyer’s, one of the sponsors, passed out water at the pavilion for runners and walkers after they finished their course. Jim Siekman, store director, said the store tries to get involved in many charitable functions such as the Run/Walk. Umpqua Dairy staff stationed at the finish line handed out chocolate milk to the finishers.
Carol Gross and Allison Browne from the Red Cross were a few of the comfort team volunteers who walked around wearing orange vests, making them easily identifiable to anyone seeking their help. Gross was on campus during the days following the shooting on Oct. 1 2015, and she volunteered to come back one year later. “We are here to provide emotional support and referrals to those who need it,” said Gross.
Participates traveled along the path, they were reminded of the reason for the event. Nine flags bearing the names of the Umpqua 9 along with flower arrangements decorated each kilometer of the course. The flower arrangements were also used as decorations for the stage during the candlelight vigil held later that evening.
The event came to a slow close as the final people crossed the finish line, greeted and hugged their loved ones and enjoyed after race refreshments. Many smiles were seen among the flushed faces, even as some tears were shed.
“We received mostly positive support from the community, “Feland said. “I don’t know if it will be an annual event. We will see what we can do next year.”