The crowd at this year’s “Ask Me Why I’m…” event for New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center was quadruple what the inaugural event in 2009 drew.
The race and family fun run Saturday morning at the Theater in Bicentennial Greenbelt Park drew 250, board president Rick Shepard said.
A $5,000 reverse raffle was also held nearby at Ruby Tuesday corporate property. Johnny Myers of Maryville won the grand prize, New Hope administrative assistant Sandi Groover said.
Shepard said the event started as a way to raise money and awareness for New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center. They started the run in Townsend on a Friday, stopped at Heritage Middle School and then finished the race in Maryville. This year the race was significantly shortened with beginning and ending points at the Theater in the Park. Other special touches included a Maryville High School drumline presentation and a visit from “Biggest Loser” finalist Ashley Johnston to add to the festive spirit of the occasion.
“This is the second year for Ask Me Why,” said Shepard. “A committee was organized, and they pulled off a great event. This year it is quadruple in size, and we hope to grow this event each year.”
New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center executive director Trudy Hughes said she and other organizers were very pleased this year.
“Right now we have a little over $13,000, which is right at what we were hoping for,” said Hughes. “The number in attendance were way more than what we were allowing ourselves to hope for. The fundraising will help support our services, and we appreciate that, but we were also very pleased with the crowd that came out to learn about the issues and interact with the Maryville College students. It was priceless.”
Tim Kumes started the event in 2009. He said this year’s event was different because it focused on the children the facility helps. “We thought we would visualize the number of people we treated last year by the pairs of footprints on the path - 336 represents the number of children treated at New Hope,” he said. “We want people to understand the impact on the community child abuse has.”
Kumes’ original idea behind the event title was to encourage to people to do a variety of things - to convince people to “Ask me why I’m …” as a way to bring awareness regarding New Hope Children’s Advocacy Center.
Melinda Headrick says she volunteers with New Hope because abused children don’t have a voice. “When a child is abused by someone they trust and know, it is damaging to their childhood,” she said. “I firmly feel every child has a right to a safe childhood. That’s why I’m a part of this.”
Ashley Johnston, runner up in “The Biggest Loser” weight loss reality show, spoke with the participants and encouraged them. Johnston said she toured New Hope on Friday and was impressed with the facility and the operation.
“New Hope is such a necessary service. Just meeting everyone and experiencing what they do touched me,” she said. “I told my mom this is a charity event I’m excited to help with, and it is something people need to support.”
Trudy Hughes, executive director, was pleased with how things went on Saturday. “It has turned out to be a great family event,” she said.
In addition to Myers winning the $5,000, Groover said other prize winners included Bobbie Beckman of Maryville who won a Tomato Head restaurant gift card for being the first ticket drawn. Steve Stilts of Maryville was the 50th ticket drawn, and he won four passes to Regal Theaters. Roger Scott was the 100th ticket drawn and won a Tomato Head gift card, and Tony Tesson was the person with the next to the last ticket drawn, and he won complimentary tickets to Regal Theater.