Runners and walkers of all ages and skill levels are expected to gather for the Second Annual HSJ Online Hope Run/Walk benefiting HSJ Online and the Hauser Athletics Department beginning with a flex-start at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Campus, located at 9423 State Road 9.

This year, it is about community. And hope. 

Event organizer David Webster says this event is in honor of Todd Grimes, a personal friend, former colleague, HSJ writer, and organizer of the first HSJ Online Hope Run/Walk in 2021, who is in a battle for his health.

“The greatest challenge this year has been not having Todd,” Webster says. “Of course, we certainly understand why he can’t be with us.”

Despite Grimes’ physical absence this year, Webster says his friend remains an inspiration.

“The greatest lesson I’ve learned from Todd is the importance of tenacity,” Webster says. “He’s just a very determined individual who does what is right in whatever he is doing.”

It doesn’t matter what the situation, Grimes remains steadfast in his beliefs and constitution, Webster adds.

However, Webster says that though he continues to better hone his own tenacity, when it comes to running versus walking that’s something else entirely.

“Unlike Todd, it is doubtful you will find me running,” Webster jokes. “I’ve never been much of a runner.”

Regardless of if participants choose to run or walk, Saturday’s fundraiser is one that welcomes participants of all ages and experience, Webster says.

The course start/finish will be the Hauser track with twice around the outside perimeter of the campus the distance to complete it. The stroller, or child course, will be the inside perimeter of the campus around the parking lots.

Hope native Ken Chandler and his wife, Nancy, are participating Saturday with their two granddaughters.

“Hope is my hometown,” Chandler says. “I’ve lived 57 of my 78 years in and around Hope.”

Since he underwent a hip replacement a little over one month ago, Chandler says he and his family will be walking the shorter course this year.

“I’m trying to be as active as I can,” he says. “I am still going to get out there and give it my best with my walker.”

This is a family event for the Chandlers who appreciate that the event benefits two nonprofits, Chandler says. 

“I have grandkids involved with athletics and I am a Hauser graduate myself, I graduated in ‘62 and was involved in athletics – baseball and track and that sort of thing,” Chandler says. “I like to support our school and our local newspaper even though I live in Columbus now.”

The Chandler’s dedication to not only participating in the HSJ Online Hope Run/Walk, but to the Hope community itself over the decades is just one example of so many as to why organizers chose the anchor as part of this year’s t-shirt design.

The anchor symbolizes hope, and there is much hope in Hope, Webster says.

“Hope has proven that time after time over the years,” he says. “And hope certainly is one of several reasons why we are very much a vital small town.”

As a tangible testament to the close-knit nature of the Hope community, in its tenacious and tireless efforts to offer hope and support to one another during challenging times, there will be a card available at the registration table Saturday morning for those who wish to pass on their thoughts and well-wishes to Grimes and his family, Webster says.

“In addition to the Hope Anchor t-shirts that will be available for participants, there will also be Hope Always & Forever bracelets for each participant,” Webster says. “Several local businesses will give 10 percent off to those who wear the bracelet while shopping that day.”

Fifteen percent of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Hauser Athletics Department and there will also be mum cards available for purchase for those who would like to get an early start on their shopping for fall florals, Webster says.

Local musicians Avery Tallent and Sally Webster will be performing and there will also be plenty of water and energy snacks available.

Organizers say, in case of rain, the event will be moved to the Hauser Fieldhouse.

When asked what he thinks about the importance of events such as this one, Webster’s answer was twofold and quite simple.

The event contributes to the community’s effort to be healthy and promote a healthy lifestyle, Webster says. However, without that community, there would not be an event.

“Hope is absolutely amazing,” Webster says. “Just think about all the events related to Hope and those don’t just happen. There are a lot of people involved – a lot of volunteers putting in much time and effort. It is very much appreciated. There’s a lot of passion in Hope. HSJ Online would not be in our eighth year without the great support of our community.”