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Faces of the Race: The Countdown Begins

Under bright autumn skies, walkers and runners lined up behind Tanger Outlet Center last September for the annual Fit for Families 5K Run/Walk. This year’s benefit for breast cancer initiatives at LRGHealthcare will take place this Saturday, Sept. 24, at 9 a.m.. People of all ages and abilities are encouraged to come show their support for neighbors and friends who are battling the disease. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
September 21, 2011
TILTON — The countdown is on to the third annual Fit for Families 5K Run/Walk at the Tanger Outlet Center this Saturday, Sept. 24, beginning at 9 a.m.

The race, held in conjunction with LRGHealthcare to support breast cancer initiatives at the local medical facility, is an opportunity for friends, families and even businesses to join together for a couple hours of fun and exercise while supporting an important cause.

This year, Belknap Landscape Company of Gilford is not only a co-sponsor of the event, but will also be well represented by employees and owner Hayden McLaughlin for the second year in a row.

"This is a great cause that really needs to be brought more to the forefront and supported by everyone," McLaughlin said. "We need to all chip in and show our support for those who are battling this disease. It only takes an hour or so of your time, yet does so much to help."

It's not a far reach to say nearly everyone knows of someone who has faced the diagnosis of breast cancer, both women and men alike.

Rebecca Doherty of LRGHealthcare said money raised by the walk is used in a variety of ways, from new equipment to educational programs and mammograms for those without insurance.

"We use it wherever the greatest need is identified each year, but it all supports breast cancer programs, awareness and treatment here at our facility," she said.

Tanger Outlet Centers around the country hold these fundraising run/walks each year and Tilton's general manager, Eric Proulx, hopes to see his center's event become a tradition that will grow larger each year. The first 600 to register for the 2012 Fit for Families 5K Run/Walk will receive special goodie bags, which include tee shirts to commemorate the race, and all who sign on will receive discounts at stores in the shopping plaza along with a medal to show their support and completion of the 5K (3.1-mile) course.

McLaughlin said he is pleased to have more than 20 of his employees signed up for the race this year, whether running or walking, and hopes to see more.

"We have some really good folks working here at Belknap Landscaping who care about the community," he said.

He said he also looks forward to seeing other local businesses show their support by participating. Pointing out the recent pleasant temperatures and the beauty of fall in New Hampshire, he said there isn't a better way to enjoy it all than a nice walk with friends and family.

While sponsors and race officials are hoping for good weather on Saturday, the walk will be held rain or shine. Should skies turn cloudy, people are advised to bring along a rain poncho or umbrella and perhaps a change of footwear for when the course is completed.

"A little rain can't dampen the spirit of this day, though," said Doherty. "What better way to get up and get moving than a good walk on a Saturday morning?"

Belknap Landscaping will be rolling in a crane to hold aloft a large pink ribbon in honor of the event and Mix 94.1 FM will broadcast live from the outlet center. There will also be informational booths, food and drinks available in a fun and relaxing atmosphere.

From the smallest child pushed in a stroller to the teens, young adults and senior citizens who rally to walk or run in support of breast cancer and physical fitness, a good time will be had by all, said race sponsors.

Entry fees are $20 per person, with all proceeds going to LRGHealthcare's breast cancer programs. Registration forms are still available at the outlet center or online at www.tangeroutlet.com. Late comers are welcome as well and a sign up table will be available for those who decide to join in at the last minute.

Proulx is optimistic that this year's fundraiser will be even an even greater success and looks forward to seeing everyone on Saturday.

"This is for people who live right here in our community. I hope we can have another great crowd this year to show support for their neighbors and friends," said Proulx.

The run/walk is set to begin promptly at 9 a.m., just outside the outlet center offices on the back, left hand corner of the shopping plaza off Routes 3 in Tilton. The sanctioned course will take walkers around the J.Jill complex, along Route 132 and back to the finish line at Tanger Outlet Center.

Varney Smith
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