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Tim Harmon 5K Event is June 16

Tim Harmon was just 51 when he died in 1999 as a result of hepatitis C. But he lives on in the memories of those who knew him and through the work he did in substance-abuse treatment.

HE'S ALSO honored via a race in his name, and this year's Eighth Annual Tim Harmon Memorial 5K Run/Walk is Saturday, June 16. It's at 8:30 a.m., rain or shine, at the Fairfax County Government Center.

Cost is $20, and participants may register at www.racepacket.com, even on race day. For more information, call 703-934-8756, e-mail peggy.cook@fairfaxcounty.gov or see www.timharmon5k.org.

"It's really become a race that people look forward to," said race director Tom Cook of Chantilly's Armfield Farms community. "We get lots of people who've done it six or seven years in a row."

A Sterling resident, Harmon worked 20 years for Fairfax County and was Director of Residential Services for Alcohol and Drug Services. He also founded a substance-abuse treatment program for teen-agers.

Because of his efforts, seven new residential treatment programs were opened. He also helped expand those at A New Beginning and Fairfax Detox in Chantilly, New Generations in Vienna, plus Crossroads and Sunrise House.

THE RACE is held to remember Harmon and to raise awareness of hepatitis C. Proceeds go to charities including the Hepatitis Foundation, the American Liver Foundation and local drug-treatment centers, including Sunrise in Fair Oaks.

And this year, a special contribution will also go to the family of MPO Vinnie DarConte, 47. The Sully District Station police officer died May 26 after a motorcycle/deer collision, leaving a wife and 12-year-old son.

Prizes in the 5K are awarded to the top three, male and female overall finishers, plus the top three finishers in 14 age groups in five-year increments. There are four race divisions: Runners/walkers, Fairfax County employees, baby joggers and public safety. Fire and police personnel will compete against each other for team and individual trophies.

The course is mostly flat and fast, beginning and ending in front of the Government Center and going out to West Ox Road and Monument Drive. Registered participants receive custom T-shirts designed by Kay Rankin. They're purple, yellow and white and feature the event's name and a winged running shoe.

Major sponsors include Sports Plus and Battlefield Screen, CASSADAY Inc. and the West Group. And more than 100 trophies, plaques and medals will be presented. Lots of doorprizes from local restaurants and merchants will be awarded, including gift certificates and coupons.

For example, the Blue Iguana is donating a dinner for two, and there's a $100 gift card from The Wharf restaurant in Old Town Alexandria, plus gift certificates from Potomac River Running.

Always a hit, the silent auction is chock full of sports memorabilia and signed collectibles, including a basketball autographed by the Washington Wizards team, a hockey puck signed by Washington Capitals' star Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Redskin Clinton Portis' autographed helmet and a football signed by Hall-of-Famer Bob Griese and his son Brian, now with the Chicago Bears.

"And unique this year, we've got an original script from the TV show, 'Las Vegas,'" said Cook. "It's signed by actors James Caan and Josh Duhamel."

ADDING TO THE FUN will be a live, classic-rock band, The Sock Monkeys, who will entertain before, during and after the race. And post-race refreshments such as bagels, juice and soda will be available.

"Last year, we raised $17,000 and had 650 participants," said Cook. "People like the party atmosphere, the band and the fact that we give out so many awards."

Literature in the race packets also helps educate people about hepatitis C. Harmon's disease was discovered through a routine blood test but, unfortunately, there's no vaccine for this silent killer.

And it has no symptoms, so people don't realize they have it until they're diagnosed. But by then, their livers may be irreparably damaged — and that's what happened to Harmon. (For more information, call 1-800-891-0707 or see www.hepfi.org).

Harmon's wife of 22 years, Becky, is a mental-health therapist in Sterling. Their daughters, Cara and Rachael, are now 25 and 20, respectively.