Charity race pumps money into local economy

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce

Only in its second year, Run for the Dream Race Weekend in Williamsburg already is attracting participants from around the country and making an impact on the local economy.

Last year, the May event — which included a half marathon, 8 kilometer race and a kid’s run — attracted 12,400 visitors, including 4,000 runners. They pumped $3 million into the economy during what is typically a slow time in the tourism season. This May, Event Director Kelly Cannon expects the crowd to grow to 18,600 visitors, including 5,000 runners, boosting the economic impact to $4.5 million. At its current pace, the event is expected to bring $10 million to $12 million to the area annually in four to five years.

“Summer is our primary driver of tourism,” says Williamsburg Mayor Clyde Haulman. “This is one of those events in the spring that brings people here and shows off the community to the best advantage. It’s a class event.”

The event has been selected to host the USA Track & Field Masters 8 km National Championships. “We will be hosting it for the next five years,” Cannon says.

The race benefits An Achievable Dream and three wounded warrior programs: the Virginia Wounded Warrior Project, Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans and Warfighter Sports. “The inaugural race exceeded our expectations,” says Walter Segaloff, founder and CEO of An Achievable Dream. “We have a lot of families participate and that is what we are after.”

The event initially began as a fundraising event for An Achievable Dream, which operates two schools in Newport News serving disadvantaged students. “Our nonprofit raises funds for additional hours and programming for social, academic and moral education,” Cannon says. “We have social classes such as peaceful resolution and ethics. It’s the social and moral aspects that set us apart from a regular school.”

Segaloff wanted to include the wounded warrior programs after watching the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington and seeing 43 wounded veterans cross Key Bridge. An Achievable Dream partners already had connections with the military. Soldiers from Fort Eustis teach character development at the schools. 

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