Local running event raises $36K for charity

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published October 11, 2017

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The annual Run the Plank 5K run raised $36,500 for five local charities, thanks to a great runner turnout and a big focus on family during the event.

The sixth iteration of the event, also known as “3 Miles of Faith,” was once again put on by Immanuel, St. Isidore and St. Peter churches on June 24 in Macomb Township. The churches first came together in 2012 to put on the community event.

The first year saw more than 900 runners bring in $20,000 for nonprofit organizations, which event organizer Mike Fontana said was unheard of for a first-year race.

This year, more than 1,400 runners participated in the 5K by either walking or running.

Checks in the amount of $7,300 were donated to CARE of Southeastern Michigan, the Cassie Hines Shoes Cancer Foundation, the Leadership Macomb Junior Program, the Macomb Literacy Program and MCREST.

The 2017 race brought the six- year total to over $228,000 donated to area charities. None of the money raised each year is kept by the churches.

“It is all about community building and giving back and outreach,” Fontana said. “This is a way to give back and try to encourage people of all ages to participate and engage more members of the respective churches.”

The 3.1-mile race starts at Immanuel at 21 Mile and Romeo Plank roads and heads north up Romeo Plank. The northbound side of the street is closed during the event.

The runners keep going until 24 Mile Road, where the family fun center was set up. The area has inflatables, clowns, popcorn, pizza and fruit. All of the activities and food is free to whoever shows up.

Each year, nonprofit organizations apply to be a beneficiary of the event. Fontana said they can get more than 20 applications, but they try to spread the wealth so the charities are getting a substantial amount each year and not a small amount spread across more organizations.

“We have just taken the event to a whole ‘nother level,” Fontana said. “We have had a ton of support since the beginning.”

Runners get a T-shirt, bag, medal and wristband for signing up to participate in the event. The wristband gets them discounts at local businesses for two weeks after the event, which Fontana said is a way to give back to event donors by sending people to their businesses.

The event will take place on June 30 next year, and Fontana is hoping to reach 2,000 participants, possibly by tying it into Macomb County’s bicentennial celebration in 2018.

Fontana also sees future growth by working with a new event that started this year called Rock the Plank. The outdoor concert took place in August at St. Peter, and Fontana would like the events to work with each other and for Macomb Township to grow the events.

“I envision in the next couple of years we bring in thousands upon thousands of people to Macomb Township for the day,” he said. “People think I am crazy, but they all thought I was crazy when I first took this over.”