August 2, 2023 at 8:25 a.m.

Community Support Abounds Ahead of 2023 HSJ Online Hope Run/Walk Saturday

(Courtesy photo of Adora paetzel)

By JENN WILLHITE | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Final preparations are underway for the 3rd Annual HSJ Online Run/Walk 5k at the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Campus, located at 9273 N. State Road 9, in Hope, Saturday morning. And as HSJ staff, organizers and local businesses tidy up loose ends, local residents are gearing up to come out and support what they say is an integral part of life in Hope, Indiana.  

As an avid runner with a deep love and appreciation for Hope, Todd Grimes approached David Webster a few short years ago about offering what would become the HSJ Online Hope Run/Walk 5k – a possible fundraising event that Grimes believed the Hope community would readily come out and support.

The customary back and forth of tossing ideas betwixt the two about how such an event could take shape and be accomplished commenced, Grimes says, and Webster agreed to “give it a go.”

“To make a long story short, here we are today,” Grimes says. “It is a wonderful opportunity for members of the community to show support for their community news source while taking the time to recognize the importance of maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle.”   

Lifelong resident and self-described “Hope-ite” Stephanie Gates says she will be walking Saturday morning in her continued effort to pursue a more active and healthier lifestyle. The 1992 Hauser graduate says, for her, it is “nice to get out and support the community.”

Frustrated by her own lack of commitment in previous years, Gates began participating in 5k walks in 2022 in a concerted effort to keep her New Year’s resolution to get healthy. After the first completed 5k, well, she was hooked. She completed seven different 5k events last year and looks to make this year a repeat.   

“This one coming up Saturday will be my sixth one this year,” she says.

For Gates, it is about more than just taking the steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is about connection, she says. 

“It is nice to have someone in the community,” she says of HSJ Online. “It is how I know what is going on in the community. It is how we get to know what is going on around Hope and that is one thing I love about it.”

Brad Hamilton echoes Gates’ sentiment.

“I participate every year and have donated money, as well,” he says.

Hamilton coached girls’ high school basketball for several years before retiring as head coach. While coaching, Hamilton became acquainted with HSJ Online – like Grimes, through David Webster.

“Once I connected to it, I really enjoyed the content,” Hamilton says.

Though he lives in Columbus, his commitment to Hope and HSJ Online has remained steadfast, he says.

“My respect for David and my enjoyment of HSJ Online, I felt compelled to support it,” he says. “The first run/walk 5k I got involved because I needed the exercise, and I thought it was a great event.”

Hamilton says his continued support of HSJ Online is firmly rooted in his belief of its importance as a communication and media source for the Hope community.

“It has always been a good advocate of positive activities and keeping people informed,” Hamilton says. “My hometown in Illinois was 9,900 people and so I know how hard it is for small towns to maintain things these days. I am very committed from that perspective.”

For many Hope residents that same feeling of commitment is an integral – almost palpable – element of life in Hope, Indiana.

Local resident Bryce Mize and his family have participated in the event each year it’s been held, he says. And for the Mizes its about family; after all, David Webster is Mize’s father-in-law.

“We pretty much like to come out and support him and his endeavors,” Mize says. “And with that, being able to support the community through HSJ Online and raising money for them.”

Saturday morning Mize and his wife, Bethany, will be walking the event with their sons, Gibson and Rowan, alongside.

“My wife and I have both been born and raised in Hope and we really appreciate the small-town community,” Mize says. “Being able to have a media/news source in that community is really nice because Hope doesn’t always get covered as well as other communities because it is so small. It’s nice to have that publication and be able to keep up with what is going on in our town.”  

Once again, local musician Sally Webster will be performing at the beginning and end of the course and there will be plenty of snack bars and water for participants.  

Additionally, the Hope Police Department will be partitioning off the road east of the campus to ensure the safety of all involved.  

In a recent column promoting the event, David Webster outlined some of the reasons the HSJ Online Run/Walk has become an important and essential event on the Hope community calendar.

“’[One reason] being to support HSJ in reaching our $20,000/year budget as we are now in our ninth year as a not-for-profit, free digital media source for the Hope area,’” he wrote. “We are hoping for 75-100 runners/walkers/strollers…”   

[Read Webster's full column HERE]

The Hauser Athletic Department will also receive 15 percent of the proceeds as a Thank You for FRHC hosting the event, Webster concluded.

That support for the athletic department, in part, is what’s bringing Lori McQueen, her friend and both their daughters-in-laws respectively out for a relaxing walk around the track, McQueen says.

“I have two grandsons in 9th and 11th grades who are in basketball and baseball [at Hauser],” she says. “I like to walk and seen the event on Facebook.”

Further exemplifying the shared community support and involvement Saturday, several local businesses will be offering 10 percent off for those wearing the Hope Changes All wristband they received at the HSJ Online Run/Walk, including D’s Variety Store, Dandelion Boutique, Major’s True Value, Special By Design, Swiss Maid, WILLow LeaVes of Hope, Tonala Mexican Restaurant and the Gold Nugget is offering 10 percent off select items. Additional sponsorship and support are offered by Ken & Nancy Chandler, Deckard Tool & Engineering, Lisa & Tony Garrison, Gold Nugget Pawn Shop, Brad & Cindy Hamilton for Hamilton Accounting, Jimmy & Ruthie Horton, Rebecca & Steve McKinney, Scott & Anita Mings and David & Lisa Webster.