United Way’s True Color Run Sept. 17

Published 6:25 pm Saturday, September 3, 2016

Eight hundred people attended last year’s event, about 500 more than expected.

The True Color Run, which kicks off the United Way of West Central Mississippi’s fundraising campaign, exceeded all expectations last year, Shannon Royal, the organization’s community impact and events coordinator, said.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better community to support us. It has beyond what we could have imagined,” Royal said. “We all have a part to play. It takes a lot of manpower.”

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To organize an event with more than 1,000 participants and volunteers takes time, meticulous planning and the ability to delegate, she said. Planning for this year’s event, which will be held Sept. 17 beginning at 8 a.m., started soon after last year’s came to an end.

“After the shock of realizing the event was going to be much bigger than we thought it would, we knew we had to start planning months in advance,” she said.

Planning included securing a route, ensuring safety, ordering supplies, organizing volunteers and having 1,500 color packets in the office.

Kami May, director of marketing and community relations, was charged with ordering most of the supplies for event, including 750 sunglasses and headbands, 1,000 T-shirts and 75 tank tops that will be on sale for $12.

“We encourage early registration because we guarantee the first 500 people swag bags,” Royal said.

In addition to securing supplies, the event also requires planning a running route, providing security and organizing volunteers.

May said two runners from the event committee came up with the route, which is 2.45 miles and flatter than last year’s, after running it to make sure it was manageable. The path takes advantage of downtown, Royal added.

“Because we’ll have people coming in from outside of the community, we wanted to give them a taste of what downtown Vicksburg is,” Royal said. “They’ll be able to see all the wonderful sights and run along the mural wall, and it gives some of our vendors a chance to partake in the event because they will be open after the run ends.”

Volunteers will be stationed throughout the course to help block roads and keep runners safe, will man the registration table and will help serve food and clean up.

Royal said they currently have 150 volunteers signed up, which is short of the 250 volunteers from last year. Though that won’t keep the race from happening by any means, she said, the additional volunteers just help things run smoothly.

May added, “We can never have enough volunteers.”

Preparation extends beyond the United Way.

The event involves clearance from the city, chief of police and the fire chief to determine the route, barricade roads and control the crowd. The city’s street sweepers are even contacted to “ensure we leave it is as we were given it,” Royal said. “We take certain steps to ensure everything is safe for the participants.”

She called it a year-round planning process that she said included additions like mini parties at each of the five color stations and adding extra cannons to the after-party.

“We’re going to be shooting color everywhere,” Royal said.

The event’s $30 registration fee covers the run, swag bag with a T-shirt and the after -party.

To register for the race, visit unitedwayvicksburg.org or the United Way office at 920 South St.