Each spring the Azalea Festival gives Wilmington it's chance to shine and put its best foot forward. That is exactly what runners have done for the past three years in the McAngus, Goudelock & Courie (MGC) Parade Mile, a race that is over in a hurry but is making a lasting impact in its host city.
"I think all of us have an obligation at a certain time in our lives if we’re in a certain place to do something for people who aren’t as fortunate." said MGC Parade Mile organizer Walt Rapp.
The concept was easy enough, but figuring out how to do it wasn't.
"I met with Tom Clifford from without limits and Colin Hackman from GoTime and they said the last thing Wilmington needed was another 5k." Rapp said. "To be honest the Parade Mile was their idea."
They let Rapp and his law firm run with the idea and like most runners who are starting out, these first-time organizers hit their share of walls along the way.
"It’s just amazing – my hat is off to the people who do this sort of non-profit stuff and my hat’s off to people who do event planning because it is a monster."
While it is admittedly small in scale and in distance the efforts of the MGC Parade Mile shouldn't be minimized. The money raised each year by the event goes to a local non-profit where even a little can go a long way. In its first year the MGC Parade Mile raised close to 35-hundred dollars, last year that number jumped 12-thousand.
"One of our associate partners, First Book, was last years recipient of the funding from the MGC Parade Mile." said Meade Horton Van Pelt, Executive Director of the Jo Ann Carter Harrelson Center. "This year they contacted us and said we just see the good things going on."
The Jo Ann Carter Harrelson Center in downtown Wilmington is as close to a one-stop shop of non-profits that you can find. The Center helps the community in areas that range from safe and affordable housing to employment and family support. It's housed in the old New Hanover County jail, meaning some who once turned to a life of crime are turning their lives around in the same building their lives stood still.
"We are offering layers of support so that we can easily hand off someone who is challenged to someone right here in the building, they don't have to Google map it, they don't have to find their way around town, negotiate the bus route - we are on the bus route and you've got 12 other organizations here for you, everything from emergency assistance to really lifelong job skills training." said Horton Van Pelt.
You might not want to walk a mile in their shoes, but the MGC Parade Mile gives you a chance to run one on your own terms - and as it enters its fourth year the "little race that could" is, and it's helping the community while flying under the radar.
"It is my baby no doubt about that and I would never want to feel like I was not a part of it."Rapp said. "I would love for it to be big enough, a little more maybe in the amount of money we generated but when you’re always feeling like you could have done more all it does is light a fire for next year."