August 22, 2002
Besides being a fun race for cash and prizes, participating in the Fair Lakes 8K Race and 2K Fun Run/Walk could very well save a life.
Proceeds benefit the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) and enable people to be tested for free so they can be entered into the marrow-registry program. And for many patients with fatal blood diseases, the only hope for a cure is a marrow transplant.
"Last year we had 1,674 runners and walkers, and we contributed $37,800 to the NMDP," said race treasurer Zach David, assistant treasurer with The Peterson Cos., main sponsor of the event. "This year's goal is $50,000, and the money goes exactly for what it's advertised to do — have people tested for the registry."
The 16th annual Fair Lakes 8K will be Sunday, Sept. 8, at 8:30 a.m., starting and ending at 12500 Fair Lakes Circle — between the Fairfax County and Fair Lakes parkways — in Fairfax. The fun run/walk begins at 8:40 a.m.
THE RACE WILL be held, rain or shine, and the course is USATF-certified. Race fees are tax deductible; cost is $20 before Sept. 1 and $25 afterward. Children, 12 and under, $10.
Register on-line at www.racepacket.com or www.active.com. For more information, call Suzanne Swistak at 703-631-7529 or visit www.fairlakes.com. The registration form is available at www.fairlakes.com/events/8krace.html; or call Stacie Sutphin at 703-631-7535.
In the male and female open division, first-, second- and third-place finishers will receive merchandise prizes, plus $100, $50 and $25, respectively. In the wheelchair open division, first- and second-place winners will also receive merchandise prizes, plus $100 and $50, respectively.
The first-place boy and girl will each be awarded a trophy and a prize, and prizes and awards will also be given in various age-group categories. Teams of five to 10 runners may also participate; a team trophy and prize will be given to the top team. No team registrations or substitutions will be allowed on race day.
Each registered participant will receive a free T-shirt and is invited to enjoy a post-race buffet, plus music from a deejay with Classic Rock radio station 94.7 FM. Race results will be posted at www.racepacket.com by 7 p.m. after the race. Besides The Peterson Cos., the main sponsors are Classic Rock 94.7 FM, Clippers Inc., Glory Days Grill, Hyatt Fair Lakes and Lockheed Martin.
Registration and packet pick-up will be Saturday, Sept. 7 — from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., in the main lobby of the Hyatt Fair Lakes, 12777 Fair Lakes Circle; call 703-818-1234 — and Sunday, Sept. 8, from 7-8 a.m., in the race finish-line area at 12500 Fair Lakes Circle.
FREE TESTING to join the marrow-registry program will be held Saturday, Sept. 7, at the same time and place as packet pick-up, and Sunday, Sept. 8, from 8-10 a.m., at 12500 Fair Lakes Circle. It only takes 20 minutes and a simple prick of the finger, and anyone screened on these two days will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win various prizes.
For people with diseases such as leukemia or aplastic anemia, a marrow transplant can mean the difference between life and death. However, nearly 70 percent can't find matching donors within their families and must find an unrelated donor.
The trouble is, the chance of finding such a donor ranges from 1 in 100 to 1 in 1 million. But the odds improve with each person who joins the NMDP. For more information on the NMDP, call 1-800-MARROW-2 or visit www.marrow.org.
That's why proceeds from the Fair Lakes 8K are so vitally important since they'll be used to provide free blood-screening clinics in the Washington Metropolitan area. (Otherwise, it would cost about $73/person to see if he or she is a marrow match for someone).
"In 2001, over 520 people were typed and added to the registry," said Brownie Bartley, an associate in The Peterson Cos.' planning and zoning department. "Our goal for 2002 is to add an additional 750 people to the registry through local drives."
"The more names we get into the registry, the better chance that someone will find a match," said Pam Stutz, executive director of the race. "We especially need minorities to join because that's where the donors are lacking."
Some 15-20 people are on the race committee. In January, they begin meeting monthly, through October (for a follow-up). The core members handle the race-line finish, course set-up, food, finances, contributions and advertising.
Then on race day, about 250 volunteers hand out water, line the course, direct people to the testing area and help them fill out the forms. "We have volunteers who come back every year," said Stutz. "Some have been with us for 10 years."
BUT IN 1996, the Washington-area branch of the NMDP was going to abandon the race because it didn't have enough people to put it on. That's when The Peterson Cos. stepped in and literally saved the day.
"Because The Peterson Cos. is a well-known developer, we had a tremendous amount of contacts," explained Stutz. "And when people knew that The Peterson Cos. in the Fair Lakes League was involved, they knew it wouldn't be a one-time thing."
The Fair Lakes League is the commercial association for the residential, commercial and retail members within the Fair Lakes community. And, said race-treasurer David, "Since the Fair Lakes League and The Peterson Cos. took over, both the number of race participants and the amount of our contribution to the NMDP have increased."
The race drew 900 participants in 1995 and an amazing 1,530 in 1996. The 1995 contribution was $10,000, but it more than doubled to $25,000 in 1996. In the best year, 2000, that number rose to a whopping $63,000 in cash — plus the runners' fees. Since the race's inception, 15 years ago, it's contributed $293,000 to the NMDP. Of that amount, said David, $274,000 has been contributed since The Peterson Cos. became involved in 1996.
STUTZ SAID the company believes in giving back to the community, and Bartley said it not only helps financially, but also allows its employees to work on the race on company time. Donations are accepted, all year 'round, to have people tested for the registry. Checks payable to Fair Lakes 8K Inc. may be sent to: The Peterson Cos., 12500 Fair Lakes Circle, Suite 400, Fairfax, VA 22033, attn: Zach David.